09 March 2016
Did you know that during your routine eye test the optometrist looks out for signs and symptoms of Glaucoma?
Many people believe that an eye test is just for checking if their vision has deteriorated, and don’t realise that it is also a very important health check. During an eye test the optometrist also screens you for signs and symptoms of general health problems and eye conditions like Glaucoma.
World Glaucoma Week was set up by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association to increase awareness of the condition around the globe and educate people on how important it is to get checked for Glaucoma regularly as part of their routine eye test.
Due an eye test? Learn the basics about Glaucoma in this blog and then book your FREE eye test at one of our opticians’ departments.
So what is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that can affect your vision if left untreated.
The commonest type of Glaucoma is a slow-developing condition which usually occurs when a build up of pressure in the eye causes damage to the optic nerve (which carries information from the eye to the brain.) Both eyes are usually affected at the same time to varying degrees. People with untreated Glaucoma may find that they begin to lose the edge of their vision as it is the peripheral vision that is affected first.
Damage caused to the vision by Glaucoma cannot be undone, so it’s important to have regular eye tests to ensure that any signs or symptoms of Glaucoma are detected as early as possible.
With early diagnosis and continued treatment and management, the vast majority of people with Glaucoma will find that the condition has little effect on their lifestyle and they are able to retain useful sight for life.
Types of Glaucoma
There are four main types of Glaucoma, these are:
Chronic open angle Glaucoma – This slow-developing form of Glaucoma is also the commonest. The pressure in the eye slowly rises, causing damage to the optic nerve if left untreated.
Acute angle closure Glaucoma – This primary type of Glaucoma is very rare. It is caused when blockage of the eye’s drainage occurs and can develop quite quickly with a sudden build up of pressure in the eye.
Secondary Glaucoma – This type of Glaucoma can occur as a result of another eye condition or injury.
Developmental Glaucoma – Although very rare, it is possible for Glaucoma to occur in very young children during their development due to an eye abnormality.
Who is at risk?
Glaucoma can develop when there is a blockage or restriction to the drainage of the fluid in the eye. As Glaucoma first begins to develop it is often symptomless, so we recommend that everyone gets their eyes tested at least once every two years. Some people may be more at risk of developing Glaucoma than others. The following factors may mean that you are more at risk of developing the condition and so should be extra vigilant:
- Those aged over 40
- A family history of Glaucoma
- Those of an African-Caribbean origin
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Symptoms vary depending on which type of Glaucoma is present. With Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma there are usually no noticeable symptoms to begin with as the condition develops so slowly. Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma usually develops rapidly with severe symptoms such as pain and redness of the eye.
If you experience any eye pain or discomfort or notice a difference in your vision, it’s important to book an eye test with an optometrist, even if your routine check up is not yet due.
Glaucoma and your Eye Test
Glaucoma is rare in people under the age of 40, so specific Glaucoma screening is not usually carried out during your eye test until you are over this age.
However, one of the main signs of Glaucoma is an increase in pressure in the eye, and every time you visit a new Optician during your adult life they will take your eye pressure during your first eye examination.
You may remember being asked to sit at a machine which puffs a small burst of air at your eye during previous eye tests; this is the part of the test that measures the pressure in your eye.
Once you’re over the age of 40 taking your eye pressure will become a routine part of all of your sight tests.
What can I do?
Although there is nothing you can do to control whether or not you develop Glaucoma, it is important to keep up with your regular eye tests to ensure that if you are to develop it, it is diagnosed as early as possible. Acting on the condition quickly usually prevents or minimises deterioration of sight.
If you feel any pain or discomfort in your eyes, or if you feel that your vision is deteriorating it is important to book an appointment for a free eye test with us straight away, even if you are not yet due one.
If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes or your routine eye test is overdue, please book an appointment online to visit one of our Optician’s departments for a FREE eye test.
www.glaucoma-association.com, www.wgweek.net, www.glaucoma.org