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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a term for a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, typically due to an increased pressure within the eye. Both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in one eye. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to loss of vision.

Learn more about glaucoma with Raj Hanspal, consultant ophthalmologist, glaucoma specialist and partner at Newmedica Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

What are the symptoms?

The problem with glaucoma is that symptoms don't appear until it’s almost too late to treat it. The loss of peripheral vision happens first, and this can be picked up, along with raised pressure, by an eye test.

One uncommon type of glaucoma, known as acute angle closure, can start with a sudden and painful build-up of pressure. This is an eye emergency with a lot of pain and blurred vision, but it is preventable and can be treated.

How can glaucoma be treated?

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, ocular hypertension, or as being at risk of glaucoma, your condition will need to be monitored regularly. Treatment will vary from person to person, but glaucoma is typically treated in three ways: monitoring, use of eye drops, and surgery.

See how glaucoma can affect your vision with the examples below

Normal vision

Normal vision

Moderate vision

Moderate glaucoma

Normal vision

Severe glaucoma

Monitoring

Patients are usually seen once or twice a year. At every visit you’ll normally be asked questions about your eyesight, your eye drops (if they have been prescribed), and your general health. You’ll also be examined on a machine called a slit lamp, which allows your optometrist or ophthalmologist to see your eye in great detail.

In many cases you will also have a number of tests, which may include:

  • Visual acuity test – to check how well you can see at distance and close-up
  • Visual field test – to check the quality of your peripheral vision
  • Intra-ocular pressure (IOP) measurement – to check the pressure inside your eye
  • Corneal thickness measurement (CCT) – to measure the thickness of the clear tissue at the front of your eye
  • Optic disc and retinal scans or photographs – to analyse the structures of the eye

Your ophthalmologist will review all of the information gathered in the clinic and give you some advice about the health of your eyes with a specific comment about whether your glaucoma seems to be stable or may be getting worse.

Your consultant will also review the collected clinic information and give a second opinion regarding your eye health. This normally happens within a week of being seen. After the consultant has reviewed your case, you will receive a letter advising you on the outcome and next steps, which will typically be as follows:

  • Normal - you will be discharged from follow up and advised to see your own optometrist as normal.
  • Stable - you will be advised to continue on your current eye drops (if you are already on some) and invited back to the clinic in 6-12 months.
  • Attention required - if the consultant is concerned about your eyes you may be advised to visit your GP to collect new eye drops, after which you will be invited back to the clinic, usually within about 6 weeks.
    Alternatively, the consultant may wish to see you in person.

How do I get referred?

Your optician or GP will discuss the various treatment options available to you and where you can choose to have your treatment. You’ll be able to take the time to decide where you’d like to be treated, and your GP or optician will make the arrangements for your referral.

How to refer

Please follow your local protocol regarding referrals – we accept direct referrals by secure email, fax, OptoManager and post. Please call us on the number at the top of this page if you would like any further information about making a referral to Newmedica.

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