Did you know that January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month; a month dedicated to combating the debilitating condition that can even cause vision loss?
What better way to mark it than to learn more about the condition, who is at risk of developing it, and how it can be diagnosed and treated.
Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve located at the back of your eye. The optic nerve sends signals from your eyes to your brain, which then translates them into images.
When nerve fibres suffer damage in this way, you initially lose your peripheral vision (at the side). The vision loss creeps further into your view, ultimately leading to complete and permanent vision loss if not detected in time.
Glaucoma causes loss of peripheral vision
The most common cause of damage to the optic nerve is increased pressure in the eye. This can be as a result of a number of different conditions.
Glaucoma can also be present in people with normal levels of pressure in the eye. In these circumstances, the damage to the optic nerve is believed to be as a result of inadequate blood supply to the optic nerve.
While anyone has the potential to develop glaucoma, you are most at risk if:
Glaucoma does not usually produce early symptoms, although in the later stages patients may notice loss of peripheral vision or even pain in their eyes.
Because of this, anyone at higher risk of glaucoma is advised to get regular checks on their eyes before symptoms show up.
For a glaucoma diagnosis, your eye health professional will perform a number of tests to see what’s going on with your eyes. These include:
While if left untreated glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness, the good news is that, if it is picked up early enough treatment is effective in stopping further vision loss.
Treatment options include:
Glaucoma laser treatment is a great option, not least because it can be carried out in a clinic rather than a hospital and does not require an overnight stay.
Although it may sound daunting, the anaesthetic drops given mean that the patient does not experience pain and make the procedure straightforward and quick to recover from.
Your laser eye surgeon may perform one of two procedures.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty targets the drainage channels in the eye to relieve them of waste and improve the outflow of fluid. This means that eye pressure is lowered.
In YAG laser peripheral iridotomy, a channel is made in the iris which helps improve the drainage of fluid and in turn lowers pressure in the eye.
Many patients who have undergone these procedures find them convenient and minimally invasive, with full recovery after only a few weeks.
What’s more, the success rate in lowering pressure in the eye after laser treatment is excellent.
At the George Street Eye Centre in Sydney, we offer a comprehensive eye health service, including laser treatment for glaucoma. If you have concerns about your vision or wish to find out more about our eye services, give us a call on (02) 9230 0010 or use our online form to contact us for expert advice.