Glaucoma Condition Overview
Glaucoma is a condition where the nerve at the back of the eye – the optic nerve – becomes irreversibly damaged over time. It is still the commonest cause of preventable blindness worldwide.
Chronic glaucoma is optic nerve damage associated with (in most patients) high intraocular pressure amongst other things. We must confirm optic nerve damage with visual field checks and other special techniques, such as the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph (HRT) or with Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) as high intraocular pressure alone does not constitute glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
Causes of Glaucoma
Chronic glaucoma is more likely if there is family history of glaucoma and in patients over 40. The disease usually affects both eyes, and to differing degrees. It is asymptomatic until the last stages of the disease.
Examination for Glaucoma
A lack of symptoms until the latter stages makes early diagnosis of chronic glaucoma difficult. When the symptoms appear, they are usually related to severe deterioration of the visual fields and in these cases, the treatment comes late, and the damage to the optic nerve is irreversible. This is one of the reasons for going regularly to the ophthalmologist to have general reviews and rule out glaucoma, especially if you are above 40, myopic and have a family history of glaucoma.
Once in the clinic, we can easily diagnose the disease with a general ophthalmological examination, we measure the intraocular pressure and check the optic nerve appearance and visual fields. To complete the examination sometimes we do other special tests such as HRT or OCT.
In contrast, a patient with acute glaucoma will present much earlier, with higher levels of eye pressure and other symptoms, and will be treated before there is permanent nerve damage.
More about types of Glaucoma
- Chronic glaucoma
Chronic glaucoma is the most common chronic ophthalmological condition, and also one of the most common causes of treatable blindness in the world.
- Angle glaucoma
Angle glaucoma is a rarer type that causes higher levels of eye pressure, usually symptomatic with pain and redness. This is rarer than the chronic type.