Why is glaucoma known as the silent thief of vision?

Glaucoma affects over half a million people over the age of 40 in the UK, and is often asymptomatic in its early stages. World Glaucoma Week (starting 6th March 2022) aims to raise awareness of the condition and prevent people from losing their sight. So, what is glaucoma and what can you do to protect your eyesight?

What Is Glaucoma?

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Glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions involving damage to the optic nerve – the nerve connecting the eye to the brain. It’s often caused by the build-up of fluid in the eye, which increases pressure, squeezing the optic nerve and killing cells.

Left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss – in fact, it’s one of the leading causes of sight loss in the UK and around the world. Although vision loss from glaucoma can’t be reversed, regular eye tests and advanced retinal scans can ensure it’s caught early so that further damage to vision can be prevented.

Glaucoma Symptoms

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Glaucoma is known as the ‘silent thief of vision’ because it’s often asymptomatic in its early stages. Two main types of glaucoma are Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) and Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG).

Symptoms of POAG tend to develop over time, and can include:

  • headaches
  • decreased peripheral vision
  • seeing a halo around light sources
  • difficulty seeing in low light.

Symptoms of PACG, on the other hand, tend to be sudden and include:

  • intense pain
  • eye redness
  • blurred vision
  • headaches

PACG can cause significant sight problems and needs immediate medical attention.

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Early detection of glaucoma is essential for diagnosing and treating the disease, which is why annual eye examinations and an OCT and Optomap retinal scan are all crucial. During your appointment, your optometrist will assess your visual fields, as glaucoma tends to affect your peripheral vision first, examine your optic nerve and look at your eye pressure, as well as using the results of the OCT scan, which shows a cross-sectional image of all the layers of the retina, and the Optomap, which gives us a 200-degree view of the back of your eye, to pinpoint exactly where any problems are located and how advanced they are.

These tests are all quick and painless, for your convenience and peace of mind.

Glaucoma Treatment

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Although glaucoma can’t be prevented, it can be treated to help slow down eye damage and prevent vision loss. Treatments can include:

  • eye drops
  • oral medications
  • surgery and therapies

If you are worried about your vision or think that you might have glaucoma, what better time to get it sorted out than during World Glaucoma Week? Contact us now to book your eye exam in Dundee with our experienced optometrists.