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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, becomes damaged. It can lead to loss of vision if not detected and treated early enough.

It usually occurs when the fluid in the eye cannot drain properly or too much fluid is produced, which increases the pressure inside the eye and puts pressure on the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is a common condition, but many people won't realise they have it because it doesn't always cause symptoms in the early stages.

It can affect people of all ages, including babies and young children, but is most common in adults over 40 (especially people in their 70s and 80s).

 

Symptoms of glaucoma

Glaucoma doesn't usually have any symptoms to begin with and is often only picked up during a routine eye test.

Many people don't realise they have it because it develops slowly over many years and tends to cause a loss of peripheral vision (the edge of your vision) at first.

Types

There are several different types of glaucoma.

Some of the main types are:

  • primary open angle glaucoma – the most common type, which tends to develop slowly over many years
  • primary angle closure glaucoma – an uncommon type that can develop slowly or quickly
  • secondary glaucoma – glaucoma caused by an underlying eye condition, such as uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
  • normal tension glaucoma – where the pressure inside the eye is at a normal level
  • childhood glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) – a rare type that occurs in very young children, caused by an abnormality of the eye

 

 

Treatments

It's not possible to reverse any loss of vision that occurred before glaucoma was diagnosed, but treatment can help slow down, or stop your vision getting any worse.

The treatment recommended for you will depend on the type of glaucoma you have, but the main treatments are:

  • eye drops – to reduce the pressure in your eyes
  • laser treatment – to open up the blocked drainage tubes in your eyes or reduce the production of fluid in your eyes
  • surgery – to improve the drainage of fluid from your eyes
  • You'll also probably need regular appointments to monitor your condition and ensure treatment is working.