Glaucoma

Glaucoma treatment at Blakelands Hospital

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions, most common in people 40 years and above. Your optic nerve connects your eye to your brain and carries sight images. Glaucoma is the loss of vision due to the optic nerve becoming damaged.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma is usually caused when the fluid in your eye cannot drain away properly. This causes an increase in fluid and pressure in your eye that can damage your optic nerve.

There are some things that increase your risk of glaucoma including: ageing, ethnicity with African, Caribbean or Asian origin people being higher risk, and if you have a parent or sibling with the condition.

Types of glaucoma

There are several types of glaucoma. Your consultant ophthalmologist will be able to advise on the type of glaucoma you have. The main types are:

  • Open angle glaucoma – the most common. The angle between your iris and cornea is wide and open and it tends to develop slowly over many years.
  • Angle closure glaucoma – less common. The angle between your iris and cornea is closed or narrow and it develops quickly.
  • Normal tension glaucoma (NTG) – the optic nerve is damaged even though the pressure inside your eye is at a normal level.
  • Secondary glaucoma – another eye condition, such as an inflamed eye, causes glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually doesn’t have any warning signs or symptoms at first. Over time you may notice a loss of vision, and if left untreated it can lead to blindness. If you are worried about your vision you should make an appointment with your optician, GP or a consultant ophthalmologist.

Very occasionally, acute angle closure glaucoma can develop suddenly due to the eye drainage channel closing and pressure rapidly becoming very high. If this happens you should seek immediate medical attention at your nearest A&E.

The signs and symptoms are usually severe and include:

  • intense eye pain
  • sore or tender eye area
  • red eye
  • headache
  • seeing coloured halos around lights
  • blurred and reduced vision

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma can help stop your vision getting worse. It’s normally picked up during a routine eye test at your opticians, often before it causes any noticeable symptoms.

Your optician will usually refer you to a consultant ophthalmologist to confirm the diagnosis, and to find out the level of development of glaucoma, the extent of damage and what may have caused it.

There are several tests that can be carried out to confirm a glaucoma diagnosis. These include:

  • Eye pressure test (tonometry) – a tonometer is used to measurement the pressure inside your eye.
  • Gonioscopy - an assessment of the drainage angle within your eye.
  • Visual field test - tests your peripheral vision and checks for missing areas of vision.
  • Optic nerve assessment – accurately looks at the appearance of your optic nerve.
  • Optical coherence tomography – scans the back of your eye to detect retina or optic nerve damage.

How can Glaucoma be treated?

Glaucoma is not curable but early treatment can prevent blindness. Treatment is based on the type of glaucoma you have. The main treatments include:

  • Eye drops – the most common treatment. Eye drops aim to reduce the pressure in your eyes.
  • Laser treatment – recommended if eye drops don’t improve your symptoms. It’s performed under local anaesthetic and aims to stop fluid building up inside your eye. It opens up the blocked drainage tubes in your eyes or destroys tissue that produces eye liquid.  
  • Surgery – for some types of glaucoma, surgery may be advised. Most often the procedure will remove part of your eye drainage tubes to allow fluid to drain from your eye more easily.

Which Ophthalmic Consultants can I see about Glaucoma?

Blakelands Hospital has highly skilled and experienced Consultant Ophthalmologists who can diagnose, manage and treat glaucoma.

How do I see an Ophthalmologist at Blakelands Hospital?

If you have problems with your eyes that is affecting your quality of life, talk to your GP or Ophthalmologist and ask for a referral to Blakelands Hospital.

We provide Ophthalmology services for both NHS patients and Private patients either self-paying for their treatment or using medical insurance.

If you have any questions about using your Private Medical Insurance or self-paying for treatment, please call 01908 049 665 or email us via our contact form.

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