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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions which damage the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from the light sensitive layer in your eye, the retina, to the brain where it is perceived as an image. The retina can be thought of as akin to the ‘film’ of a camera where light is focused. The information is then sent along the optic nerve.
All glaucomas have certain key features in common. These are increased pressure inside the eye, ‘cupping’ of the optic disc, and loss of the peripheral visual field. Any two of these 3 features is usually enough for there to be very strong risk of having glaucoma.

What controls pressure in the eye?

The eye is filled primarily with water based substances and liquids. Think of there being a ‘tap’ inside the eye – constantly producing fresh liquid. This ‘tap’ is a layer of cells behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye). The fluid produced is called ‘aqueous’. This liquid is inside the eye, and is not connected to the tears.
The eye also has a ‘drainage’ system. The drains are located at the front of the eye, between the edge of the cornea and the iris.
So, increased pressure in the eye is due to increased production of fluid, or decreased drainage of fluid from the eye (or a combination of both).

How Does Increased Pressure Damage the Nerve?

The mechanism of damage is unclear. Certainly, when the pressure goes up very suddenly (as in acute glaucoma), there is clearly a lack of blood supply to the nerve head in the eye. There are various other theories as to how the nerve damage actually occurs.
What is certainly known, is that LOWERING this pressure delays the progression of glaucoma. In sudden acute glaucoma, lowering the pressure can save the sight in an eye which is otherwise destined to lose vision.

How common is Glaucoma?

It is one of the commonest reasons for blindness in the Western world. There are several different types. These include chronic simple glaucoma (the commonest Type), acute glaucoma, congenital glaucoma and secondary glaucomas which arise secondary to some other condition or influence.

Who gets chronic Glaucoma?

There are several ‘risk factors’ for developing chronic glaucoma. These are

  1. Age – Chronic glaucoma is uncommon below the age of 40 but affects 1% of people over this age and 5% over 65.
  2. Race – People of Afro-Caribbean origin have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
  3. Family History – There is a ‘genetic’ element to glaucoma. If a close relative (parent/sibling) has Glaucoma, you should not worry, but ensure you have regular check ups to detect any changes as early as possible (should they ever occur)
  4. Myopia – Very short sighted people are more at risk of developing chronic glaucoma.

Why can untreated chronic Glaucoma cause serious loss of sight?

The main reason is that chronic glaucoma usually has NO SYMPTOMS. There is no pain and your eyesight will seem to be normal too, but silently, your vision is slowly deteriorating. Glaucoma tends to damage the peripheral field of view first so is not noticed by most. Only when the peripheral field has been significantly damaged, do some people start bumping into things, or see oncoming vehicles at the last minute for example.

How is chronic Glaucoma detected?

There are few tests that can help detect glaucoma. These are
Measuring the pressure inside the eye – often a puff of air or a special contact ‘tonometer’
Examination of you ‘visual field’ – usually, a machine where you press a button when you see lights in your peripheral vision
Examination of your optic nerve by your optician/doctor.
All these tests are very straightforward, don’t hurt and can be done by most high street optometrists (opticians).

Can chronic Glaucoma be treated?

YES. A simple regimen of daily drops to the eye can delay progression of glaucoma in the vast majority of people. Sometimes, an operation called Trabeculectomy is required. Both of these treatments have been shown to be very effective indeed.

Acute Glaucoma

What is acute glaucoma?

This is a form of glaucoma where the pressure inside the eye shoots up very suddenly. It happens because of a physical blockage of the drainage channels inside the eye at the ‘angle’ of the eye (where the cornea meets the iris). This is why it is often referred to as ‘Angle Closure Glaucoma’.

What are the symptoms of acute glaucoma?

Severe Pain – often, people wake up in the night with a very severe pain in 1 eye (although it can happen in both eyes simultaneously – this is uncommon)
Redness of the eye
Blurred Vision – sometimes ‘haloes’ can be seen around bright lights.
Nausea & Vomiting.

How is the Acute Glaucoma treated?

Acute glaucoma is initially treated with powerful drugs to help bring down the pressure inside the eye very rapidly. Subsequently, depending on the nature of the cause of the attack, drops, laser, and surgery are the various options available to the surgeon.
A similar treatment, usually with laser only, is usually performed in the other eye, to ensure the same acute attack cannot happen there too.


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Eye Health

Simple Tips for Healthy Eyes

Your eyes are an important part of your health. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam

You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drop in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.

Know your family’s eye health history.

Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Eat right to protect your sight.

You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.

Wear protective eyewear

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.

Quit smoking or never start

Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

Be cool and wear your shades

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Give your eyes a rest

If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

Clean your hands and your contact lenses—properly

To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Practice workplace eye safety

Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your coworkers to do the same.


Monday to Friday 9am – 5:30pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm

020 8866 3998