What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition which affects the optic nerve at the back of the eye, resulting in a progressive and irreversible loss of sight. Symptoms of glaucoma are very non-specific and include misty, blurred, or patchy vision. However, the majority of patients with glaucoma have no symptoms of the disease and do not know that they have it, unless the disease is very severe.
Therefore, it is important that if you have a family history of glaucoma, especially if parents or siblings have the condition, that you see your optician once a year after the age of 40. Other main risk factors are increasing age and being short sighted, or in certain cases, long sighted.
Diagram of a healthy eye vs an eye with glaucoma
How can you treat it?
The good news is that although we cannot reverse the damage caused by glaucoma, there are numerous treatment options available to reduce the risk of the condition getting worse. The most common type of treatment is eye drops which help to lower your eye pressure which is one of the biggest factors in developing glaucoma. There are four main types of drops and in most cases treatment starts by using one type and then adding in others if required. Using more than 3 drops from 2 bottles is often avoided due to the potential side effects of making the eyes red and sore.
Where drops are ineffective or causing negative side effects there are other options for treatment, including laser therapy or surgical options. The most common laser therapy is Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) which is performed as an outpatient procedure. The laser works by causing very mild inflammation, which in turn results in your eye draining fluid out from the drainage angle and thereby lowering the eyes pressure. This is a good option for patients suffering with dry eyes.
Traditional surgical options such as Trabeculectomy, where a trap door is created inside the eye or Tube Surgery, where a tiny plastic tube is inserted inside the eye are commonly performed and aim to drain fluid out of the eye. Both procedures have a proven track record but carry significant risks. However, with advancements in medicine we are now able to offer newer surgical procedures which are shown to be safer and can be combined with Cataract surgery. These newer procedures are called ‘MIGS’ operations (Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery). Examples include: the i-stent - a tiny stent that sits in the drainage system of the eye; the KDB procedure - which strips the malfunctioning drainage system from the eye and the Xen Implant. All the procedures named are aimed at improving the drainage of fluid out of the eye and thereby lower the eyes pressure.
In summary, there are a number treatments now available for glaucoma and the choice of treatment will depend on your age, severity of disease and personal circumstances all of which can be reviewed with you by your health professional.
What to do next?
To book a consultation with our glaucoma specialist Mr Tailor, please feel free to complete a no-obligation consultation request through our website, or contact us on 0116 270 8033.