What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve at the back of the eye resulting in permanent loss of peripheral vision and eventual blindness. There are numerous types of glaucoma, but Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common. It is often referred to as “the silent thief of sight” because there are no symptoms until the vision is severely and irreversibly damaged. Its prevalence increases with age; 1 in 8 Australians over the age of 80 will develop glaucoma.
You are ten times more likely to develop glaucoma if a direct relative has it (mother, father or sibling). That doesn’t mean it is a certainty – but you certainly should get checked regularly.
At your appointment Dr Adams will analyse the results of numerous tests to assess your glaucoma. These tests may include: intraocular pressure, central corneal thickness, direct visualisation of your optic nerve, computerised perimetry of your visual fields, baseline photography of your optic nerve for comparison at future appointments, and Ocular Coherence Tomography “OCT” of your optic nerve fibre layer.
The symptoms of glaucoma (loss of peripheral vision) are not usually noticed until late in the disease stage, which means it is very important to visit your optometrist regularly, as by the time you notice any changes to your vision the damage to the optic nerve is well progressed. If you have been diagnosed with angle closure glaucoma, you may notice symptoms of an acute angle closure attack, which include intense pain, redness of the eye, blurred or reduced vision, headache and nausea. It is vital that you seek medical advice immediately, as this sudden rise in eye pressure can cause permanent damage to your sight.
There is no cure – but it can be managed and slowed down.
The best ways to avoid irreversible vision loss from glaucoma:
- Diagnose it early! Attend your optometrist in your 40s for regular check ups, earlier if you have a strong family history
- Makes sure you administer your medication as scheduled.
- Glaucoma can change suddenly, requiring an adjustment in your eye medications or perhaps even surgery, depending on the type of glaucoma that you have. So be sure to attend all your appointments
There are many treatments for glaucoma, depending on the type of glaucoma you have and the stage of the disease. Dr Adams will discuss the most appropriate treatments for you at your appointment. Common treatments include: eye drops to reduce eye pressure; a laser treatment called selective laser trabeculoplasty (or “SLT”) which increases the drainage of fluid out of the eye; insertion of a drainage stent to lower your eye pressure without drops (most commonly performed in conjunction with cataract surgery but can be done as a stand-alone procedure).
To make a booking for a consultation or procedure, contact us.
Please have on hand your:
- Medicare card number
- Health fund details (if applicable)
- DVA/Pension/health care card details (if applicable)
- Current referral letter