Glaucoma is a group of conditions that affected the optic nerve at the back of the eye. It results in gradual, progressive loss of side vision.

At the end stage patients have “tunnel vision”. Unfortunately most patients with glaucoma are unaware of the loss of vision until it is advanced and once the damage has occurred it cannot be reversed.

Therefore regular eye checks are vital for detection.

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

To establish your risk of glaucoma or to determine if it is present there are several steps.

• Your intraocular pressure (IOP) will be measured. A normal intraocular pressure is thought to be between 10 and 21 mmHg. However, many people have glaucoma and do not have elevated pressures.

• The appearance of your optic nerves may also suggest glaucoma, as characteristic damage can occur over time.

• A computerised visual field test will be performed. This takes about 10 minutes to do both eyes and tests the side or peripheral vision.

• Finally an OCT scan of the optic nerve will be done. This assesses the health of the optic nerve and can be used to monitor progression over time.

• Together with your vision, pressures and appearance of the optic nerve it provides important information about the likelihood of glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

The treatment depends on the type of glaucoma. For most types of glaucoma the goal is to lower the IOP to prevent further never damage. This is achieved by drops, laser or surgery.

If you are on drops it is important you instil them every day as per the instructions to have the best chance of preventing glaucoma progression. If there is significant optic nerve damage and drops or laser are not sufficient to prevent visual loss, surgery will be recommended.

Follow up

You will need to be seen at least annually for a pressure check, OCT and automated visual field assessment. If the pressure is not adequately controlled or there is a concern about disease progression these visits will need to be more frequent.