Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve – the nerve that transmits visual information to the brain. Most commonly (although not always), glaucoma is due to raised pressure in the eye.
What is glaucoma?
In a normal eye – fluid is constantly produced and then flows out through the internal filter system of the eye to maintain a steady pressure. If, however, the fluid fails to flow out properly, the pressure will increase and can cause damage to the nerve. This condition is known as Glaucoma. Optic nerve damage results in permanent loss of peripheral vision. If left untreated, it can lead to total blindness. In other instances the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves.
How can I tell if I have glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the silent thief of vision. Unfortunately there are usually no symptoms until permanent damage has already occurred. This is why regular eye examinations are so important. In some patients, you may experience patchy loss of peripheral vision, blurred vision or pain and redness in your eye. Family history of the disease increases the risk of developing the disease yourself.
Loss of Peripheral Vision caused by Severe Glaucoma
Is the damage that occurs in glaucoma serious?
Yes. Whilst modern examination techniques and treatment have made glaucoma a rare cause of blindness in Australia today, if left untreated it can lead to a total loss of vision. The damage to the nerve cells caused by Glaucoma cannot be reversed although it is possible to prevent further damage.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
A thorough eye examination is required to detect glaucoma. We will check your vision, measure the eye pressure, perform a visual field test to assess your peripheral vision and also take scans and images of the back of your eyes including your optic nerves. The combination of all these test results will help the doctor diagnose what type of glaucoma you may have and how it should be treated.