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Vision care


What is Glaucoma?

“Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside of your eye”

(The College of Optometrists, 2018)

Glaucoma can happen slowly (chronic), with few symptoms at its onset or very quickly (acute) with symptoms such as an ache in the eye which comes and goes, nausea and vomiting.

Chronic glaucoma is the most common out of the two. Of this group of diseases, 1 in 200 people over the age of 40 and 1 in 25 over the age of 75 can be affected by a type known as Open Angle Glaucoma.

Who is at risk of chronic glaucoma?

Chronic glaucoma can develop in anyone, however the risk of it developing increases if you:

  • are aged over 40
  • are very short-sighted
  • are of African or Caribbean origin
  • are closely related to someone with chronic glaucoma*
  • have raised pressure in your eye – this is called ocular hypertension (OHT)
  • are diabetic or
  • have high blood pressure

(The College of Optometrists, 2018)

* The NHS will pay for your eye examination if you are over 40 and one of your parents, children or siblings have glaucoma.

Please note those with an increased risk of acute glaucoma are:

  • aged over 40
  • women
  • are of East Asian or South Asian origin
  • have a family history of closed-angle glaucoma and
  • are long-sighted

(The College of Optometrists, 2018)

Glaucoma and sight loss

As mentioned above, chronic glaucoma is symptom less in its early form. Therefore the best way to detect it before it affects your sight, is to attend regular eye examinations. Any sight loss caused by glaucoma cannot be repaired or restored.

As shown in the picture in the header above, untreated glaucoma can cause tunnel vision. This is when you can see directly in front of you but have lost the vision in your periphery. If glaucoma is left untreated it can lead to blindness.

How will you check if I have glaucoma?

There are three main tests that we will complete during your eye examination to assist in diagnosis.

  • The Optometrist will take a look at the nerve at the back of your eye. This could be using:
    • a handheld device (Ophthalmoscope) which they hold close to your eye to look through
    • a slit lamp, where you will be asked to place your chin on a rest, whilst a light is shone into your eye.
    • or by taking a photograph using our OCT or Optompap imaging equipment
  • The pressure inside your eye will also be measured. This is completed with a handheld device and completed for each eye. This test is not painful and with our equipment there is no puff of air to make you jump.
  • The final test which we complete is one on your visual fields. This is where we cover one eye at a time and place you on a machine to follow the red dot whilst counting how many green dots are flashed around it. Glaucoma field loss leaves a distinctive pattern and this with the results of the above two tests could result in you being referred for further assessment and treatment at the hospital.

Should you have any concerns about your vision or that of someone you are close to, please make an appointment with one of our Optometrists. This is vitally important if you have a family history of glaucoma, or have a sudden onset of pain in your eye coupled with nausea and sickness.