WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GLAUCOMA?
This week (8th-14th March) is World Glaucoma Week, a chance to highlight that everyone should have regular eye tests and health checks in order to detect/ prevent glaucoma as early as possible to help treat glaucoma, prevent the loss of vision and eliminate glaucoma blindness. This year, 2020, marks a milestone year as it has been a decade of raising awareness on the symptoms of glaucoma through the World Glaucoma Week campaign so to support this initiative Opticall have put together some insights into this eye condition.
To find out more about this eye condition we asked our Lead Optomotrist (and one of our home visit opticians) Satish Pancholi about the second leading cause of blindness in the world that affects an estimated 78 million individuals in the world – glaucoma.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions that cause sight loss because of damage to the optic nerve – the nerve that connects the eyes to the brain. There are different types of glaucoma and increased pressure in your eyes and age are important risk factors. Unfortunately, damage to the optic nerve can’t be reversed. Around 60 million people are currently living with glaucoma.
Glaucoma damage can be prevented if detected and treated early. However, sight loss is irreversible. This is why it is so important to have regular eye examinations as our Opticians test for glaucoma as part of the routine eye test, so a glaucoma treatment plan can be set up.
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma is often (but not always) linked to high eye pressure. Our eyes contain fluid called aqueous humour, which helps them hold their shape. When this fluid no longer drains away fast enough, eye pressure can rise – but glaucoma can occur in people with normal eye pressure too.
Why some people develop glaucoma and others don’t isn’t fully understood yet, but a number of causes have been recognised. Age is the biggest risk factor with almost 10% of people aged 75 and over having the most common type of glaucoma. People with a close relative, such as a parent, with the condition may also be at higher risk, and ethnicity (African, Caribbean or Asian origin) is a factor for certain types of glaucoma too.
What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma tends to develop slowly and often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms until damage has already occurred. Sometimes people experience acute glaucoma which causes a sudden onset of severe eye pain and blurred vision.
When glaucoma does cause symptoms, these might include:
- Blurred and reduced vision starting with peripheral vision (outer edges) and develops very slowly.
- Seeing rings and rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights.
- Severe eye pain that develops suddenly. This might be accompanied by redness and tenderness of the eye and surrounding area, plus a headache, nausea and vomiting.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is usually diagnosed following routine eye tests. Tests for glaucoma often start with an eye pressure test. An optometrist will also examine the front part of the eye, to see whether they can spot any issues with fluid drainage, such as a blockage. If glaucoma is suspected, patients will be referred to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis and assess any damage that’s already occurred. This is why you should book an eye test regularly.
Once diagnosed the treatment to slow the advancement of this condition can commence (dependent on the specific type and progression) and that can involve a number of treatment options such as prescription eye drops, laser therapy, surgery or special therapies. There are new treatments being researched all the time too so these options will change/develop with time.
What to do if you suspect you or a loved one has glaucoma?
Please call us on 0208 8998 4228 if you would like to book a home eye test and health check with one of our mobile opticians. Alternatively request an eye test via our website. Our highly qualified and experienced opticians will provide a professional and safe service, to you or your loved one in their own home, from our thorough eye examinations and eye health checks through to the glasses being personally hand delivered and fitted.
For further details about who is at risk, common symptoms, how to treat glaucoma, both patients and the general public may visit glaucomapatients.org.