Written by Mr Gok Ratnarajan
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Director of Innovation Eye Clinic & Head of Glaucoma at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a serious, progressive eye disease, which if left untreated can lead to blindness. High pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. This leads to loss of vision which is irreversible.
Around half a million people in the UK are currently diagnosed with glaucoma. Probably about that same number have it but do not know they have the condition.
Why is it called the silent thief of sight’?
Glaucoma is sometimes known as the ‘silent thief of sight’ because there are no symptoms until the disease is already quite advanced. The peripheral field of vision is often affected first which can be hard to detect without an eye examination.
How is glaucoma detected?
Glaucoma can be diagnosed after having a full eye examination where the eye pressure, optic nerve and field of vision are assessed. This can be performed by an optician, who will then refer you to an eye doctor (Ophthalmologist) if something suspicious is picked up on the eye examination.
This condition is more common as you get older and can run in families. If you are over 60, or have a close family member with glaucoma and you are over 40 you should get your eyes tested with your optician every year, and is covered by the NHS.
How is glaucoma treated?
As it cannot currently be cured, the key is early diagnosis. For many decades the main treatment for glaucoma was eye drops. In more recent years with the advent of new lasers and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) we now have many more treatment options available.
What is your message for everyone as it is Glaucoma Awareness Week starting 29th June.
Glaucoma is a serious condition that can lead to irreversible sight loss. Early diagnosis is the key to protecting your eyesight. Raise awareness by sharing this article with friends and family, and most importantly get your eyes tested regularly.
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His office can be contacted on 0800 005 3335 or firstname.lastname@example.org