Glaucoma is a disease affecting the optic nerve that can cause painless, progressive loss of a person’s peripheral vision. If left untreated and undiagnosed, it can lead to “tunnel vision” and eventually permanent loss of vision and complete blindness. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. There are many factors which contribute to the disease, which is often without obvious symptoms, particularly in the early stages.
Family history is significant, first degree relatives of patients diagnosed with glaucoma are ten times more likely to develop the disease. The risk of a glaucoma diagnosis also increases with age, with approximately one in eight Australians over the age of 80 developing the disease.
There are a number of different types of glaucoma:
Open Angle Glaucoma
- This is the most common form of the disease. It is caused by the eye’s drainage canal’s becoming clogged over time.
Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma or Narrow Angle Glaucoma
- This is caused by a rapid increase of the pressure inside the eye due to the iris blocking the drain. It is often severe and symptomatic, people can suffer pain, nausea, blurred vision and redness of the eye. Immediate medical review is usually required.
- A rare form of the disease that is caused by an abnormality of the drainage system. It is often present from birth or develops sometime after. Surgical intervention is usually required.
Glaucoma Secondary to Trauma or Other Diseases
- This form of the disease occurs as the result other conditions of the eye such as injuries, inflammation or in some cases cataracts
Surgical & Laser Treatment for Glaucoma
Treatment of glaucoma primarily focuses on reducing intraocular pressure, usually with drops. However sometimes laser treatment for glaucoma (laser trabeculoplasty) may be required, this usually occurs when the drops alone are not managing the intraocular pressure and works by improving the eye’s drainage. Alternatively glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy) is another treatment possibility. This is usually only required if both drops and laser have failed to decrease the intraocular pressure. This surgery involves a new channel for the fluid to drain being created. In most cases treatment can save remaining vision but it does not improve eye sight.
The group of doctors at the Terrace Eye Centre include glaucoma specialists, with extensive experience in the medical and surgical management of glaucoma.
For more information regarding glaucoma, see the Glaucoma Australia website: www.glaucoma.org.au