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What is glaucoma and what does it mean for your eyes?

Posted On 22 October 2012

What is glaucoma and what does it mean for your eyes?

The Glaucoma’s are a group of eye conditions which can affect your vision, and if left untreated, can lead to permanent loss of vision.  The most common type of glaucoma is primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).

Primary open angle glaucoma usually develops slowly (over a period of years rather than weeks or months).  It is asymptomatic and because the peripheral vision is affected first, can go unnoticed by the sufferer until the disease is quite advanced. Having regular eye examinations increases the chances that this condition is detected in its early stages so that appropriate treatment can be given before and loss of vision is minimised.  It is a slow developing form of the condition, which occurs when fluid doesn’t drain properly from the eye causing a build up of pressure, which damages the optic nerve.  The good news is that by having regular eye examinations this condition can be detected in its early stages, before the build up of pressure begins to effect sight.

Over 480,000 people in England have been diagnosed with primary open angle glaucoma, although the International Glaucoma Association estimates that the number of people with this condition is significantly higher.

How do you prevent glaucoma?

Unfortunately you cannot take actions to prevent glaucoma. The problem with POAG is that because it can be asymptomatic in the early stages, many sufferers do not realise that they have it and by the time it is detected, the vision has already been damaged. Early diagnosis and management is vital and the best way to ensure that the condition is diagnosed early is to have regular eye examinations.

If you are diagnosed with the condition it can be managed, the aim being to preserve vision treated to prevent it from worsening. The most common treatment is eye drops, although other treatments including beta-blockers and surgery can be used.  Having regular sight tests will help to ensure that any signs of glaucoma can be detected early and and you should also inform your Optometrist if you have a family history of glaucoma or related illnesses.

What next?

If you haven’t been for an eye examination within the past 2 years the next step should be to book one as soon as you conveniently can. Tesco Opticians eye examinations are free, enabling everyone to look after their eyes, regardless of their financial situation. Just call us on 0845 601 3479 to arrange an appointment or book online here.

Remember - If you are concerned that you may have glaucoma, or that someone in your family has, you can always book an early appointment rather than waiting until your next prescription is due.

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