June 4th-10th is designated National Glaucoma Week by the International Glaucoma Association, an organisation which is dedicated to helping those affected by the condition. The National Glaucoma Week is intended to raise public awareness of glaucoma and to promote good eye health.
So what is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition of the eye which can cause vision loss due to damage of the optic nerve. It is second only to cataracts as the main cause of blindness globally and millions of people are affected. There are two main types: open angle and closed angle glaucoma. Open angle is the most common type.
What are the common symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma often affects both eyes, but one may be affected more quickly or more severely than the other. Initially there are no glaucoma symptoms at all and it may just be picked up during a routine eye examination. As the disease progresses you may notice a gradual decrease in your peripheral vision and experience blurred vision or rainbow circles when you look at bright lights.
However, symptoms of glaucoma can also develop out of the blue with sudden and severe eye pain, nausea and vomiting, red eye and blurred vision. This particular cluster of symptoms is associated with acute closed-angle glaucoma, which is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
What are the risk factors of developing glaucoma?
There are several factors which increase the risk of developing glaucoma, including a family history of the condition, advanced age, high blood pressure and increased pressure inside the eyeball itself. Other risk factors include using steroids over a long period, diabetic retinopathy and trauma to the eye. Ethnicity also plays a role: people of African or Asian descent are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
When you got to get your eyesight checked, the optician will usually offer a test for glaucoma. The examination involves measurement of the pressure inside your eye, as well as direct looking at your eyeball and optic nerve for any suspicious changes.
What glaucoma treatments are available?
There are a variety of clinical glaucoma treatments which are designed to lower the pressure within the eye. While these glaucoma treatments can stop or slow the disease, none are curative. This means that any vision loss prior to diagnosis will not be recovered but with adequate and appropriate treatment it is entirely possible that useful vision may be preserved for life.
• The most common glaucoma treatment comes in the form of eye drops. Poor concordance with the medication can result in vision loss.
• Laser treatment aims to lower eye pressure by making physical changes to the structure of the eye.
• Surgery is mainly used for those people who were born with glaucoma and includes options such as the implantation of drainage devices to stop pressure building up within the eye.
Keeping your eyes healthy
As well as adhering to any treatment regimen prescribed by your doctor, you can keep your eyes healthy with regular exercise and a balanced diet. You should aim to wear sunglasses when out in strong sunshine and to protect your eyes during sport or manual work. Above all, have regular eye check-ups with your ophthalmologist or optician.
About Ramsay Health Care
At Ramsay Health Care we are proud to work in partnership with some of the highest qualified and experienced consultant, ophthalmologist, orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, pain management consultants and physiotherapists in the UK. Our holistic care offers you the best treatment!
At Ramsay you won’t have to wait for an appointment or for your glaucoma surgery. Your treatment may be covered by medical insurance and self-pay packages are available on request. We have first class facilities and all self-funding and most privately insured patients can enjoy our Premium Care offering exclusive benefits including superb food, a relaxing environment, priority access and appointments to suit your lifestyle. Our aim is to help you feel like a guest as well as a patient.
Please contact us for more information.