A quick guide to glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition that involves damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects the eye with the brain. Glaucoma is commonly caused by the imbalance that leads to raised pressure of fluid in the front of the eye. The fluid increases pressure, and the condition is one of the most important causes of irreversible sight loss in the working aged population.

How glaucoma develops

One particularly worrying aspect of glaucoma is that initially it can be completely asymptomatic. The condition usually develops at a slow rate over many years, affecting the peripheral vision initially. Early signs of glaucoma can be ascertained during routine eye tests.

Main symptoms

The disease is typically bilateral, although this may be asymmetric meaning one eye is predominantly clinically affected. In acute glaucoma, development of symptoms is an emergency:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Red eye
  • Haloes

Types of glaucoma

Acute glaucoma is an ocular emergency: it is critical to seek help immediately. There are of course different types of glaucoma, including primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common form. This occurs slowly over the course of several years and involves the drainage channels gradually becoming inefficient at fluid egression. Broadly categorised, glaucoma can be open angle or closed angle, primary or secondary, adult onset or congenital.

Who is at risk of glaucoma?

Quite simply, anyone can manifest glaucoma. However various risk factors exist, including:

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Ethnicity
  • Existing medical conditions

Early diagnosis and early treatment is key: hence the importance of a robust screening program and adhering to regular check-ups.

Whilst glaucoma cannot be reversed, the progression can be arrested, utilising modalities such as eye drops, laser and surgery.

This blog is contributed by Gurjeet Jutley.