What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions resulting in loss of vision due to damage to the nerve at the back of the eye (the optic nerve).
Most commonly this visual loss is gradual, and starts in the peripheral vision, so is often not noticed by the patient until visual loss is severe and involving the central vision.
Often this occurs in conjunction with elevated pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure or IOP), however, in some cases people develop glaucoma with normal pressure.
There are many potential underlying causes for glaucoma and a thorough history, examination and some additional tests are required to determine the cause in each case.
Underlying causes for glaucoma can be related to:
- abnormalities affecting only the eye
- systemic conditions such as diabetes
- use of some medications such as steroid medications
- prior trauma to the eye can also cause glaucoma
When you come to the clinic for your initial assessment, you will have a number of tests done prior to seeing your ophthalmologist.
These tests will allow them to determine if you have glaucoma, how severe it is, and which treatment options are suitable for you.
- Visual acuity
- Visual field testing
- OCT scan of the optic nerve and the macular
- Auto refraction
There may be additional tests that are performed on the day, depending on your individual situation, which will be discussed with you on the day. After the tests are completed, you will see your ophthalmologist for a thorough clinical examination of the front and back of the eye. After the examination you will have an opportunity to ask any questions, and discuss available treatment options for your particular type of glaucoma.
It is likely you will need to have your pupil dilated for your first visit to the clinic, and therefore you will need someone to drive you home afterwards. For subsequent appointments you should check with reception staff when you make your appointment if you will have dilating drops during the appointment.
Types of treatment
The most appropriate treatment option for you may depend on the underlying cause of your glaucoma and severity of the disease.
All treatment options will be discussed with you at the time of your initial consultation, and the option that provides the best treatment for your glaucoma, while taking into consideration your lifestyle and other medical problems, will be decided on by you and Dr Oakley.
Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, the condition needs to be managed for the rest of your life. Although treatment may lower the IOP, it is possible for it to increase again with time, and therefore you will need lifelong monitoring to prevent vision loss.