According to the World Health Organisation, glaucoma is the second biggest cause of blindness across the world.
But what is glaucoma? Ahead of World Glaucoma Week in March, Unhar Gupta, ophthalmic director at Specsavers Harrow, explains…
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a fairly common eye condition. Essentially, it occurs where the optic nerve becomes damaged – normally due to a build-up of fluid which increases pressure in the front of the eye. If it is not diagnosed and treated early, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
What would I notice if I had glaucoma?
Glaucoma can develop really slowly and have no symptoms. This is why the first time people know that they have it is when it is picked up at a routine eye test. You might experience some blurring to your vision, or experience rainbow effects around bright lights. Both eyes are normally affected, but you may only notice it in one.
Either way, if you do experience any symptoms you should see an optician right away. And if they come on suddenly, you should go to A&E.
Who is at risk of getting glaucoma?
We all are. It most commonly affects older adults, but anyone can develop glaucoma at any time. That is why regular eye tests are so important. We recommend that everyone – from the age of three – has an eye test every two years, unless they have been told to have one more often.
Other than age, you may also be at greater risk of getting glaucoma if you are from a particular ethnic group, if you have other eye conditions or diabetes, or if you have a close family member who has suffered from the condition.
How is it treated?
Sadly, it is not possible to cure any loss of vision that happened before the condition was picked up on, which is why early detection is so important. But treatment can stop your glaucoma from getting any worse.
The type of treatment recommended for you will depend on your individual circumstances, but could include eye drops, laser treatment and surgery. You will also need regular check-ups to make sure that your glaucoma is under control.
What is the best way to prevent glaucoma?
You cannot prevent it from happening, but regular eye tests – or getting a test when you first notice symptoms – can prevent your vision loss from getting any worse. Early detection is definitely the key.
Specsavers Harrow is open seven days a week at 289 Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2TA. You can book an appointment by calling 020 8424 0244, or book online.