Glaucoma is the group of eye diseases that are often associated with increased or high pressure in either one or both eyes. The change in pressure associated with glaucoma is generally silent, without symptoms. It is a gradual change that affects the delicate fibers of the optic nerve causing damage to the peripheral vision over an extended period of time.
In Australia it is a leading cause of blindness in the over 40s but can affect people at any age. Glaucoma affects up to 3% of the population at any given time. While 1% of 50 year olds have glaucoma, 10% of 80 year olds are affected.
In the early stage of glaucoma there are no symptoms. It is therefore important to be screened for glaucoma particularly if you are in one of the high risk groups:
- a family history of glaucoma
- short sightedness (myopia)
- eye injuries
- high blood pressure
- past or present use of cortisone drugs (steroids)
- African ancestory
People in these groups should have their first eye check no later than the age of 35. For most people, it is recommended to have an eye check for glaucoma by the age of 40.
Studies have shown that the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease. So, if you fall into one of the high-risk groups for the disease, make sure to have your eyes examined through dilated pupils every two years by an eye care professional.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, if diagnosed early, the disease can usually be controlled with ongoing treatment that may include eye drops, laser treatments or surgeries and blindness can be prevented.
Glaucoma is monitored with tests of the visual field (peripheral vision tests), eye pressure testing and new high resolution scanning techniques called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Generally these tests are done at regular intervals to monitor the progression of the change to the visual field, the nerve fiber and the effectivity of treatment.
The doctors at Gordon Eye Surgery have these newer techniques available in order to better assess any changes to the nerve and adjust treatment accordingly.
If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly.
More information about services to assist in adapting to life with glaucoma.