It is one of the most common eye diseases in the UK and in the early stages you have no symptoms.
The condition occurs when the optic nerve in the back of the eye gets damaged, typically as a result of raised pressure within the eye. Modern treatment options attempt to prevent glaucoma from progressing, but cannot repair damage which has already occurred and therefore it is beneficial to diagnose and treat the disease in the early stages.
Earlam and Christopher partner Edward Farrant has particular interests in acute eye care and glaucoma and he works regularly at both Musgrove Park Hospital and Bristol Eye Hospital as a glaucoma shared care optometrist. He has completed a number of specialist exams in glaucoma and therapeutics, and is one of only a handful of expert practitioners across the whole country.Also see Ocular Hypertension
Chronic open-angle glaucoma
In cases of chronic glaucoma, there are usually no noticeable symptoms because the condition develops very slowly. People often do not realise their sight is being damaged because the first part of the eye to be affected is the outer field of vision (peripheral vision). Vision is lost from the outer rim of the eye, slowly working inwards towards the centre.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma develops rapidly. Symptoms are often severe. They include:
As a result of these symptoms, some people may also feel sick or be sick. Symptoms of acute glaucoma are not constant. They can last for one or two hours before disappearing again. But each time the symptoms occur, your vision is damaged a little more.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by other conditions or eye injuries, such as uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye). It is possible for the symptoms of glaucoma to be confused with the symptoms of the other condition. For example, uveitis often causes painful eyes and headaches.
However, the glaucoma may still cause misty vision and rings or halos around lights.
Glaucoma is caused by a blockage in part of the eye. This prevents fluid draining out of the eye and increases pressure in the eye, called intraocular pressure.
There are a number of things that can increase your risk of developing glaucoma:
age – glaucoma becomes more likely as you get older. In the UK, chronic open-angle glaucoma affects one to two people in every 100 who are over 40 years old, and four to five people in every 100 who are over 80 years old
ethnic origin – people of African or Afro-Caribbean origin are at increased risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma. People of Asian origin are at increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma
short sightedness (myopia) – people who are short-sighted are more likely to develop chronic open-angle glaucoma
ocular hypertension (OHT – raised pressure in the eye). People with OHT are at increased risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma. Your optometrist will be able to diagnose OHT (see diagnosing glaucoma)
family history – if you have a close relative, such as a parent, brother or sister who has glaucoma, you are at increased risk of developing the condition yourself
medical history – people with diabetes, which is a condition caused by too much glucose in the blood, may be at increased risk of developing glaucoma
The first thing we need is to consult with you and complete an eye examination, and with nationally renowned experts in our practice you’ll find this service thorough and professional.
Your Examination may or will include:
Ocular Coherence Tomography
Our state of the art OCT takes 3D cross sectional scans of the optic nerve in the back of your eyes. This allows us to very accurately monitor your eye health, allowing us to pick up any subtle changes with your optic nerves
This specialist technique allows us to examine and monitor the drainage part of your eye, which can become blocked in glaucoma causing the pressure to rise.
Central Corneal Thickness (Pachymetry)
This is a technique using ultrasound that allows us to accurately measure the thickness of your cornea. This measurement allows us to be very accurate in determining your eye pressure and also look for signs that can put people more at risk of the disease.
Detailed Visual Field Analysis
Our Visual field testing uses the latest hospital equipment to accurately detect and monitor changes with your vision.
If there appears to be an issue that can be managed through medication then are dispensing team will be able to prescribe the right product for you. If the situation is more serious we can advise on the next steps, such as recommending you to a hospital but this is rare.