Glaucoma is caused by a blockage in the drainage system which allows eye fluid (aqueous humour) to be drained when necessary. The build-up of fluid causes pressure to build up within your eye, which in turn can cause damage to the optic nerve (the main connection between your eye and your brain). There are several types of glaucoma, some of which develop slowly whilst others are more rapid and can be painful.
What are the symptoms?
Acute angle-closure glaucoma, which develops rapidly, can cause headaches, intense eye pain, redness or tenderness around the eye, halos or “rainbow” rings around lights, misty vision or sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. These symptoms can also cause vomiting or nausea.
The symptoms may happen for an hour or two before disappearing again. Each time they occur, your eye is becoming damaged further, so it’s important to contact your optician as soon as possible. If you experience symptoms outside of practice hours, go to your local accident and emergency.
Many other forms of glaucoma often display no symptoms until the damage has been caused. This is an important reason for regular eye exams with an optician, so that any signs of glaucoma can be detected and treated as early as possible.
How is glaucoma treated?
Treatment of glaucoma is most commonly achieved through eye drops which allow the pressure built up inside your eye to be relieved. If eye drops prove ineffective or can’t be used for any reason, other forms of medication include laser treatment or eye surgery, which will allow fluid to successfully flow from inside your eye. It’s important to remember, however, that any damage to the optic nerve through glaucoma cannot be reversed or repaired, which makes early treatment essential