There are two broad classes of glaucoma:
- Chronic glaucoma causes very slow and painless reduction of vision.
- Acute glaucoma causes severe, sudden eye redness, pain and blurring of vision.
Unfortunately, most glaucoma patients suffer (unknowingly) from the chronic form and hence without that they have glaucoma until it is quite advanced.
By the time glaucoma causes any visual problems, there is already severe damage to your optic nerve. That is why regular eye check-ups are so important for older people and and those with a family history relatives of glaucoma patients.
Your eye doctor may be the only person who can tell you if you have glaucoma. He or she can do so in the following ways:
- By checking your eyeball pressure
- By examining the appearance of your optic nerve
- By using a computer to test your visual field
- By using high resolution imaging of the optic nerve
You can be assured that with regular eye checks, you have every chance of detecting glaucoma and preventing it from stealing your vision.
How will my eye doctor treat my glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a lifelong disease. Once diagnosed, a patient requires strict follow-up with his eye doctor for the rest of his life. Your eye specialist will usually focus treatment on lowering your eyeball pressure, by one or more of the following methods:
For most people, eye drops are sufficient in controlling the disease. They work in a number of ways, but mostly by lowering your eyeball pressure.
Laser can be used to treat certain types of glaucoma. It is also used to prevent the acute form of glaucoma in some patients.
Eye surgery is always the last resort when the above methods have failed to limit damage to the patient's optic nerve.
The goal of treatment is to prevent further damage to the optic nerve and to preserve remaining vision.
How can I prevent glaucoma?
Unfortunately, glaucoma is not a preventable disease. The best way to combat it is to detect it early. You can do this by going for regular eye checks, especially if you belong to one of the following groups:
- You are over 40 years of age and you have not had your eyes checked regularly, especially if you are female and Chinese
- Someone in your family already has glaucoma
- You have diabetes or high blood pressure
- You are very short-sighted or long-sighted