Glaucoma is an eye disease that can occur at any age, but is more common if you are over 40. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in New Zealand. Though its progression can be controlled with ongoing treatment, early detection is the key which is why regular eye examinations are important. If you are over 40 you should be checked every 2 years, and if you have a family history of glaucoma you should be checked every year.
Open angle glaucoma
Glaucoma is associated with increased pressure in the eye. The eye produces a fluid (aqueous), which needs to drain out of the eye at the same rate as it is being produced. If this doesn’t happen, the pressure in the eye increases resulting in damage to the optic nerve. As the disease progresses subsequent damage will result in blind spots in the vision. Treatment, usually with eye drops, will not recover any lost vision but will slow down the damage process.
At Highbury Optometrists we are now qualified to treat and manage certain types of glaucoma. Treatment normally involves prescription eye drops. More advanced cases of glaucoma can require surgical treatment from an ophthalmologist as well.
We carry out basic glaucoma screening tests on all patients. If risk factors for glaucoma are identified then further testing is done using visual field analyser and Optical coherence tomography OCT.
There is another type of glaucoma called acute glaucoma. This occurs where the anterior chamber of the eye is too shallow. The anterior chamber of the eye becomes increasingly shallow with age, and can sometimes reach the point where it obstructs fluid outflow from the eye. This causes the pressure in the eye to rise very quickly causing severe pain, a red eye, sometimes blurred vision and halos around lights. It is important to seek treatment immediately if this occurs.
Pigment dispersion glaucoma
In some people, pigment from the iris becomes loose and floats freely in the fluid in the anterior chamber of the eye. Internal fluid, known as the aqueous humour is constantly forming and draining from the eye. The free pigment can block the fluid drainage channels resulting in higher internal eye pressure and ultimately leading to glaucoma.
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