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Adjusting to Glaucoma

Adjusting to Glaucoma - National Eye Health Week

Tuesday 21 September 2021

1. What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition which affects the optic nerve. This is the essential connection which allows our eyes to send messages directly to our brains.

Unfortunately, glaucoma is a difficult condition to diagnose because its initial stages present almost no symptoms and no pain. Subsequently, it is important to know whether your family has a history of glaucoma and visit an optometrist regularly if you are at risk.

The best defence we have against glaucoma is catching it early and slowing the disease as much as possible. Sadly, while there are treatment options, there is no cure yet, and the tunnelling caused by the condition is permanent.

We advise you to get regular eye examinations, and to ask your optometrist for the results of your pressure tests.

2. What causes glaucoma to develop?

Some of the causes of glaucoma are still unknown, but the most concrete link we have is based on intraocular pressure, or the pressure inside the eye.

The liquid in the eye which delivers nutrients and allows it to function is called the aqueous humour, and it is released through a structure called the drainage angle. If the drainage angle becomes blocked, then the pressure from the aqueous humour increases and the optic nerve will become damaged.

Increased pressure is the main way that glaucoma damages the eye, but the cause of pressure building is not entirely understood, with the main links to the disease being age, genes, blood pressure and diabetes.

Remember, pressure levels are variable from patient to patient, so your optometrist needs to know what the healthy pressure of your eye is, so they can assess whether it is increasing.

3. How long does glaucoma take to develop?

The initial stage of vision loss from glaucoma happens very slowly, which unfortunately means that the damage can and will occur almost entirely unimpeded by human intervention. The build of pressure is very slow and gradual, and sadly once it becomes noticeable, that damage cannot be undone.

4. How does it affect our vision?

Glaucoma affects the peripheries of our vision, gradually darkening the outer reaches, and slowly creating channels through which we see. If left to continue, glaucoma will result in tunnelled vision, leaving only two holes for us to perceive light from, as opposed to the wide vision we are born with.

5. How does it affect our day-to-day lives?

Glaucoma sufferers struggle with many of their day-to-day tasks, due to this condition. Sadly, there is not a great deal that can be done for them once the damage occurs, but all aspects of their life which require an ability to see can be permanently affected. This is why it is so important to get the required help early, and to pay close attention afterwards.

6. Is glaucoma treatable?

While the damage from glaucoma is irreversible, there are three main methods which can slow its development:

  1. Eye-drops (including combination eye-drops)
  2. Laser eye surgery
  3. Surgical operation

Eye-drops are the solution which most optometrists will choose first as they are the easiest to monitor. Laser eye surgery has improved a lot in the treatment of glaucoma over the last 25 years, and pressure-relieving solutions without invasive surgery are possible and do well for many recipients. An invasive operation is not as scary as it might have been a long time ago. Nowadays these surgeries can be completed in less than ten minutes, without any scarring or stitches in the eye. These can be more sophisticated in the ways that they release pressure than the methods mentioned previously.

7. How can a Serious light help?

A Serious light can illuminate your specific tasks more accurately than a standard reading light, which is important for people with glaucoma who have a reduced field of vision. This is because you want as much light as possible on your specific task, but you also need to be able to adjust because each case of glaucoma can be different.

The amazing range of motion in a Serious light can provide a luminous light source from any angle that your specific field of vision requires, whilst also giving you the ability to dim the light throughout the day, as your needs change.

Sources:

  1. NHS Link 1.
  2. NHS Link 2.
  3. NHS Link 3.
  4. Morrfields.
  5. Glaucoma UK.

Label:

Glaucoma

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