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Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye diseases which damage the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. If left untreated glaucoma can result in blindness.  In the more common forms of glaucoma there is increased pressure in the eye which presses on the optic nerve and causes a gradual loss of peripheral vision.

Glaucoma is common, it occurs in 2% of Australians over the age of 40 (anyone can develop glaucoma).

How do I know if I have Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a slowly developing condition with no warning symptoms. All people over the age of 40 should have their eyes examined every two years by an eye specialist. In this way glaucoma can be diagnosed in the early stages before there is any damage to the side vision.  Anyone can develop glaucoma however a person is at higher risk if any of the following are present:-

  • Increased intraocular pressure within the eye
  • Age – over 40 years
  • Family history
  • Myopia (short sightedness)
  • Diabetes& African heritage
  • Steroid use
  • Hypertension
  • History of migraines

Glaucoma Treatment

Eye drops are usually effective in reducing the pressure and preventing any further loss to the side vision. If eye drops are not effective laser treatment or surgery may be required. It is important to have regular review of the eyes if diagnosed with glaucoma to check on the pressure in the eyes, the side vision with visual field testing and the appearance of optic nerve.

Can Glaucoma cause blindness?

Glaucoma causes damage to the nerve responsible for your eyesight. This can lead to a loss of side vision and eventually central vision if left untreated. The damage caused by glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed. Therefore it is important to have glaucoma treated.

FAQ's About Glaucoma

  • What is Glaucoma?
  • Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye diseases which damage the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. If left untreated glaucoma can result in blindness.  In the more common forms of glaucoma there is increased pressure in the eye which presses on the optic nerve and causes a gradual loss of peripheral vision.

    Glaucoma is common, it occurs in 2% of Australians over the age of 40 (anyone can develop glaucoma)
  • Is Glaucoma affected by the use of my eyes?
  • No. Glaucoma is not affected by use of the eyes, e.g. television, reading, nor by emotion or stress.
  • Will the Glaucoma go away?
  • No. Glaucoma will not go away, it needs continuous treatment and monitoring.
  • Can I ever stop treatment?
  • No. If treatment is discontinued or neglected, further damage to your eyesight may occur.
  • What is Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)?
  • SLT is a relatively new laser treatment for glaucoma which aids in decreasing the pressure by opening the drainage system of the eye.
  • Why do I need to use eye drops?
  • Glaucoma eye drops help to reduce the pressure in the eye.

  • When can I stop using my glaucoma eye drops?
  • Glaucoma is a chronic condition, which means that you must continue to use the eye drops prescribed by your Ophthalmologist.  These control the pressure in your eye and should not be stopped unless advised by your Ophthalmologist. 
  • Do I have to use drops - can't I just take a tablet?
  • Drops are much more effective than tablets when treating eye problems, because they can treat the problem directly.  It is important to use the drop exactly as your Ophthalmologist has prescribed them, as some drops are most effective when used at specific times of the day.
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