What is Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disease that occurs generally when increased eye pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images from your retina (this is the light sensing tissue in your eyes) to the brain, which then makes sense of the images and gives us the ability to see. Over time, as a significant number of nerve fibres are damaged, blind spots develop permanently.
Most people don’t notice that these blind spots have developed until it is too late and the damage has been done. If the entire nerve is destroyed the eye becomes blind.
The most important risk factors include:
- Age (particularly for people aged 50+)
- Elevated eye pressure
- African ancestry
- Thin cornea
- Family history of glaucoma
- Past injuries to the eyes
- Steroid use
- A history of severe anemia or shock
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Unfortunately, most cases of glaucoma do not occur with readily noticeable symptoms that warn of the irreversible optic nerve damage being done.
However, the presence of the following warning signs, indicates that you need a thorough examination by an eye doctor:
- Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms
- Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
- Squinting or blinking due to unusual sensitivity to light or glare
- Change in colour of iris
- Recurrent pain in or around eyes
- Double vision
- Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy
- Excess tearing or “watery eyes”
- Dry eyes with itching or burning; and
- Seeing spots, ghost-like images
The following may be indications of potentially serious problems and should be checked by a medical professional immediately:
- Sudden loss of vision in one eye
- Sudden hazy or blurred vision
- Flashes of light or black spots
- Halos or rainbows around light
The symptoms listed above may not necessarily mean that you have glaucoma. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.