Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that cause a permanent loss of vision. It is one of the world's leading causes of blindness.
Many people don't realise they have glaucoma as it initially affects their peripheral or side vision which is not as sensitive as the central vision, it happens gradually and, there are usually no other warning signs.
Regular eye tests are important in detecting the early onset of glaucoma. Glaucoma treatment following diagnosis will prevent further sight loss from happening.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disorder where your optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye.
There are several types of glaucoma. Treatment is based on the type of glaucoma you have. The main types include:
• Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) – most common type of glaucoma that develops slowly over many years.
• Angle closure glaucoma – rare, occurring slowly or rapidly with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye. Acute angle closure glaucoma causes permanent sight damage if it’s not treated quickly.
• Normal tension glaucoma (NTG) – where the pressure inside your eye is normal.
• Childhood / congenital glaucoma – occurs rarely in very young children due to an abnormality of the eye.
• Secondary glaucoma – caused by an eye injury or another eye condition, such as uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer).
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma usually happens when a blockage causes the production of more internal (intraocular) fluid than your eye can drain away. This results a build-up of fluid and pressure in your eye and can damage your optic nerve.
The reason for the blockage is unknown, but it can be inherited. Others reasons may include severe eye infections, blocked blood vessels inside the eye and, inflammatory conditions such as dry eyes.
What are the benefits of the glaucoma surgery?
Often eye drops are prescribed initially to lower your eye pressure. If these don’t help then your ophthalmologist may recommend laser treatment or glaucoma surgery to help control your eye pressure and prevent sight loss. Glaucoma surgery may be advised as a first treatment. For example, childhood glaucoma often requires surgery. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the best treatment for you.
Laser treatment is used to open up blocked drainage tubes in your eyes or to decrease the fluid production in your eyes. Glaucoma surgery will improve the fluid drainage from your eye.
The benefits of surgery are that it slows the progression of glaucoma, lowers your eye pressure and, prevents further damage to your optic nerve and vision loss.
What does glaucoma surgery involve?
There are a number of glaucoma surgeries, that are carried out under local or general anaesthetic.
Trabeculectomy is the most common type of glaucoma operation and takes around an hour to perform. It involves creating a tiny hole in the wall of your eye, known as the sclera, that is covered by a “trapdoor” so that fluid can drain away from your eye in a controlled fashion.
This procedure lowers eye pressure in the long term.
What complications can happen after the glaucoma surgery?
Severe complications are rare after glaucoma surgery. If they do occur, they may be:
• your eye pressure drops very low or very quickly during the early post-operative period
• your eye becomes infected.
Following glaucoma surgery astigmatism can sometimes develop. Astigmatism is a refractive error and may cause distorted focus and blurred vision. It can be managed, once you have recovered from surgery, by a new glasses prescription.
What is the cost of the glaucoma surgery?
If you decide to pay for your treatment, Ramsay offer an all-inclusive Total Care package, where a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price, delivering direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance. You can also spread the cost of your treatment with finance options available.
A glaucoma surgery may be covered by your medical insurance policy. We advise you to check directly with your insurance provider and get written confirmation before commencing treatment.
How soon will I recover after the glaucoma surgery?
Every patient is different, so you should check with your eye surgeon for specific advice regarding your recovery. Typically, it takes two to three months for your eye to feel completely normal.
Following trabeculectomy glaucoma surgery, you’ll have regular follow-up checks on your eye pressure for at least the first month and, you’ll usually be given eye drops for two to three months until your eye is healed to prevent infection and swelling.
Your vision may be blurred following your glaucoma surgery and you shouldn’t drive until your ophthalmologic surgeon grants you permission.
At least three months after your surgery and once your eye has fully recovered, a refraction test is usually required as your prescription may have changed slightly from your pre-surgery prescription.
Glaucoma surgery with Ramsay Health Care
Here are Ramsay we treat patients with many eye conditions. Our skilled ophthalmologists use the best practices and offer the latest treatments including eye surgery based on your individual needs and diagnosis. We commonly offer treatment for glaucoma to ensure that patients don’t further lose their eyesight.
You can contact us to arrange a convenient appointment.