Frequently Asked Questions – Glaucoma

What is glaucoma ?

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged. The cause is not entirely clear but the pressure within the eye is known to play a major role
Left untreated, blindness can result.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma ?

Unfortunately there are no symptoms until it is too late. That is why it is called “the sneak thief of sight”

How is glaucoma diagnosed ?

Glaucoma can only be detected by an examination and by performing some investigations

Why do I need to have field tests ?

Field tests are vital to determine if you have glaucoma and to determine if it is progressing. Without a field test there is no way to know what is happening.

What other tests are done ?

In addition to field testing, OCT is used to measure the nerve fibre layer of the retina to detect any ongoing progression of glaucoma. HRT is also used to determine the progression of structural damage to the optic nerve

How is glaucoma treated ?

The only proven method of treating glaucoma is by lowering the pressure within the eye by either laser, medication or surgery

My pressure is normal so how can I have glaucoma ?

The defining factor in glaucoma is optic nerve damage not the pressure. Some people have what is called “Normal pressure glaucoma”

So if my pressure is normal do I still need to have it lowered more ?

Yes, even in normal pressure glaucoma, lowering it even further can slow progression.

Can my glaucoma be cured?

No, it can only be controlled

If I successfully lower my pressure can I still get worse ?

Unfortunately in some types of glaucoma lowering pressure may not prevent progression.

So can I go blind ?

Unfortunately yes but with good pressure control the risk of this can be reduced

Should I choose laser treatment or medication to lower my pressure ?

There is no correct answer at present, both are effective. Its a matter of personal preference

I have been told that I need surgery for my glaucoma. What does surgery do ?

Surgery is required when medication or laser has failed to control the glaucoma. Surgery lowers pressure also.

I need cataract surgery, will it affect my glaucoma ?

Cataract surgery can lower intraocular pressure in some cases so it can be helpful

I have been told that I have narrow angles. what does this mean ? Do I have glaucoma ?

It means that the relationship between your iris and cornea where the trabecular meshwork is (the drain in the eye) is such that there is potential obstruction of fluid trying to leave the eye. This can put you at risk of angle closure glaucoma but does not necessarily mean that you already have glaucoma

What is an iridotomy ?

An iridotomy is a laser procedure that creates a small hole in your iris. This is used to reduce the risk of having an attack of angle closure glaucoma