Glaucoma, the silent thief of vision is the most common cause of sight loss amongst those of working age. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged where it leaves the eye.
For the eye to work properly a certain level of pressure is required for the eye to keep its shape but if the eye pressure becomes too high, it squeezes the optic nerve, destroying some of the many nerve fibres leading to gradual sight loss.
The first symptoms are a visual loss at the edges of your sight. If the glaucoma is left untreated, the damage can progress to tunnel vision and the eventual loss of central vision, although blindness is rare.
Glaucoma often affects both eyes, usually in varying degrees as one eye may develop glaucoma more quickly than the other.
The progression of glaucoma can be abated with eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. However, early diagnosis is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed. Any treatment aims to control the condition and minimise further damage.
The NHS encourages regular yearly eye examinations for higher risk patients to ensure early diagnosis and prompt treatment
You are entitled to a free NHS eye test if you are over 40 years old and have a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister or brother) with glaucoma.
You may also be entitled to a free NHS eye test if:
– an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) thinks that you are at risk of developing glaucoma
– you are over 60 years old