Glaucoma is a common form of eye disease that often runs in families. It is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness.

Commonly asked questions

What causes glaucoma?

Just as a football needs air pressure to maintain its shape, the eyeball needs internal, or intraocular, fluid pressure to retain its shape and ability to see.

The cause of glaucoma is generally the failure of the eye to maintain an appropriate balance between the amount of internal fluid produced and the amount that drains away. When this is out of balance, eye pressure can rise to dangerously high levels – causing glaucoma.

What are the first signs of glaucoma?

Glaucoma is sometimes called the ‘silent thief of sight’ because in most cases there are no early symptoms or warning signs for the disease, and it slowly damages the eyes before leading to irreparable vision loss.

To protect your sight from glaucoma it is critical to have regular, comprehensive eye examinations with your optometrist, to assess your eye pressure, optic nerve health, thinning of the cornea and other signs of potential problems.

Who is likely to get glaucoma?

Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and mainly affects people over 40 years of age.

People who have diabetes, suffer from migraines or have had an eye injury, are more at risk of developing the disease. A family history of glaucoma increases the risk. Infantile glaucoma can occur from birth or can develop in a child’s early years.

How is glaucoma treated?

The management of glaucoma focuses on reducing or eliminating the chances of further damage to the eye. This involves lowering the pressure in the eye either through medication such as eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. While existing damage and vision loss cannot be restored, the aim of treatment is to reduce the risk of any further damage.

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