Eye Conditions

Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, is the term for a group of eye diseases which cause vision loss as a result of damage to the optic nerve.

There are a two main types of glaucoma:

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form, accounting for approximately 90% of glaucoma cases in Australia

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is required

Unfortunately there is no cure, and vision loss is irreversible. If left untreated, central vision will be progressively impacted leading to blindness.

What are the symptoms?

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

  • No obvious symptoms in the early stages
  • Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision
  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

  • Eye pain and redness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, is the term for a group of eye diseases which cause vision loss as a result of damage to the optic nerve.

There are a two main types of glaucoma:

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form, accounting for approximately 90% of glaucoma cases in Australia

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is required

Unfortunately there is no cure, and vision loss is irreversible. If left untreated, central vision will be progressively impacted leading to blindness.

What are the symptoms?

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

  • No obvious symptoms in the early stages
  • Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision
  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

  • Eye pain and redness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights

What causes Glaucoma?

In most cases, damage to the optic nerve is caused by raised intraocular pressure (IOP) due to a drainage problem with the aqueous humor (fluid).

Some people may experience glaucoma despite having a normal eye pressure if their is an underlying weakness in the optic nerve, known as normal tension glaucoma.

While anyone may develop glaucoma, some factors may place people at a higher risk:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • High eye pressure
  • Over 50
  • African or Asian descent
  • Diabetic
  • Short or long sighted
  • Prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • Experience migraines
  • Recent eye operation or eye injury
  • History of high or low blood pressure
  • Experience obstructive sleep apnoea

Glaucoma Overview: Primary Open-Angle and Acute Angle-Closure

Diagnosing Glaucoma: Visual Field Test

Treatment of Glaucoma

The aim of glaucoma treatment is to reduce the pressure in your eye in order to prevent or minimise further damage to your optic nerve and in many cases, a combination of treatments is required.

 

  • Medicated Eye Drops – reduce the amount of fluid produced in the eye or open the drainage channels so that more fluid can drain away

 

  • Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) – often used to treat chronic glaucoma, the laser opens clogged areas in the drainage angle improving fluid drainage

 

  • Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) – involves placement of one or more ‘stents’ into the drainage angle of the eye to bypass the obstruction, allowing aqueous fluid to flow out of the eye. MIGS procedures can be performed at the same time as cataract surgery and can help to reduce the reliance on medicated eye drops in some patients.

 

  • Trabeculectomy or drainage tube surgery – occasionally required to reduce IOP by creating an alternate outflow for the aqueous fluid in the eye to the subconjunctival space

 

While treatment can help to prevent further vision loss, damage already done is irreversible which is why early diagnosis and careful regular observation is critical.

Treatment of Glaucoma

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