Glaucoma is a disease which damages the optic nerve. Risk factors for glaucoma include a high pressure, a family history, history of migraine and a variety of general medical conditions. Untreated, it can slowly and painlessly taken away the vision causing blindness.
Most glaucoma is chronic open angle glaucoma. In its early stages there are generally no symptoms, and so it is important to be checked for glaucoma. Untreated, it can slowly and painlessly take away the vision, causing blindness.
There is no single test for glaucoma. It is important that a general medical history is taken and then a comprehensive eye examination, which includes checking the pressure, examining the front part of the eye for signs of glaucoma and looking carefully at the optic nerve. Photographs may be taken of the optic nerves for future reference. Depending on the appearance of the optic nerve, a visual field test (a functional test) may be done and scans may be taken of the optic nerve fibre layer (a structural test). Some patients are told that they are ‘glaucoma suspects’ and are watched more closely on the basis of these findings.
Treatment generally involves drops. There 5 different groups of medications available for glaucoma, and the decision about which drops to use will depend on many factors (including your general health). If the drops do not adequately control the glaucoma then a laser procedure may be used. In rare cases, surgery is needed.