Common Eye Conditions: Glaucoma

There are many different eye conditions that we’re sure you’re aware of. But do you really know what theses conditions are, what the symptoms can be, what the possible causes are, how they can be detected and how the conditions can be treated or managed?

Following on from our blog about common eye conditions, we thought we would take a closer look at some of the most common eye conditions and blog about them individually and in more detail. In this month’s blog we’re going to be talking about an eye condition called glaucoma. It’s a condition which many of you may have heard about, mainly because it can be hereditary. However, from first hand experience with our customers, while many people know if they have a relative who has the condition, few know what it is or the implications of glaucoma.

So what is glaucoma? It is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve becomes damaged by pressure inside the eye. The optic nerve connects your eye to the brain. This damage can occur either because the intraocular pressure inside the eye has increased or because the optical nerve is more susceptible to damage. It can affect one or both eyes.

There are three types of glaucoma:

Open angle glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma is the most common type, generally affecting 1 in 200 people over the age of 40 and 1 in 25 over the age of 75 years. The groups of people who are most at risk are those with high minus prescriptions and people who suffer with diabetes or high blood pressure.  Open angle glaucoma can be caused by the aqueous humour (the mass which fills the space crystalline lens and the retina) being produced faster than it can drain away. This causes an increase in pressure within the eye, which in turn reduces the blood supply to the optic nerve, causing damage to the nerve fibres, which leads to a loss of vision within the visual field.

Unfortunately, open angle glaucoma very often doesn’t have any symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage and there is a loss of some of the visual field.

Close angel glaucoma

Closed angle glaucoma is the second most common type of glaucoma and is caused when the angle of the anterior chamber is blocked by the iris, and so reduces the flow of aqueous to an extent that the pressure rises. The patient can experience pain, blurred vision or images looking like halos around lights.

Congenital glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma, also known as childhood glaucoma is a very rare eye condition and affects infants. This is a genetic condition where the angle of the anterior chamber has not formed correctly. The condition is usually diagnosed during birth and up to the age of three. Congenital glaucoma is rare, with around five in every 100,000 children either born with it or develop it in childhood.

Glaucoma can also be caused as a secondary condition leading from another related ocular condition which affects the flow and drainage of aqueous humour. The optic nerve damage causes patchy loss of vision that, if left untreated, will increase and lead to tunnel vision and blindness. This loss of vision is permanent, so early detection is important, especially as glaucoma is quite often symptomless.

It is vitality important to have regular eye examinations. Once detected the glaucoma can by managed through prescribed eye drops and possible laser treatment to reduce the pressure inside the eye.

During your comprehensive eye examination at Respectacle Company we will carry out three tests which relate to the early detection of glaucoma. No contact tonometry, commonly known as the puff of air test. This checks the pressure of the eye, by gently blowing a puff of air into the eye. It is quick, painless and effective. It can startle some people when the puff of air is delivered, but it’s over very quickly.

Next, the visual field functional test checks how wide the visual field is when the patient is looking straight ahead, because you’re not always aware of visual field loss. The Optometrist looks at the optic nerve at the back of the eye using an ophthalmoscope and we then take a picture of the nerve using our retinal camera.

Here at Respectacle Company we are committed to providing the best possible service for our customers, and that is why we have invested in state of the art OCT Scan technology. OCT – which stands for Optical Coherence Tomography – is a 3D camera which will take an advanced cross-sectional scan of the front and back of the eye, much like an ultrasound. It is completely painless and uses sound waves to image the different layers of the eye. An OCT scan is able to see under the retina to parts of the eye that an ordinary eye examination cannot.

The OCT scan can detect many different eye conditions including early detection of glaucoma. The results of the scan are read during the consultation by our fully trained and very experienced Optometrist, and fully explained to the patient during the same appointment. Having the results available instantaneously means we are able to offer peace of mind and reassurance to our customers. The images are securely stored within the software system, so any subtle changes to the retina at each OCT scan is automatically detected, giving us an invaluable ongoing record of the health of your eyes.

If glaucoma runs in your family or you are over the age of 40 we highly recommend an Optical Coherence Tomography scan. To book an Optical Coherence Tomography eye test at our Market Harborough optical store please give us a call on 01858 433 577. You’re welcome to give us a call or pop into our shop on Manor Walk if you’d like to find out more about the benefits of an OCT scan.