Taking good care of your eyes: How to identify and treat glaucoma
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Losing your eyesight is often considered part of getting older, but your fading vision may also be the result of a condition like glaucoma.
Knowing what signs to look for, booking regular check-ups and seeking early medical advice can prevent your eyesight from worsening.
Mr Vik Sharma, a consultant ophthalmologist at The London Ophthalmology Centre, shares the common misconceptions people about glaucoma, its symptoms, and what treatments are available to help you.
Q: How can I tell if I have glaucoma?
A: In most cases people don’t exhibit signs of glaucoma until they are at an advanced stage of the disease. Worsening eyesight is an indicator of glaucoma, but some people often don’t notice right away, as it happens gradually over a number of years. This is why attending regular eye examinations is essential, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is caused when there is too much pressure on the eye, which then squeezes the optic nerve. Using sophisticated scanners and state-of-the-art technology, we’re able to take eye pressure readings and directly examine the nerve to detect glaucoma. The earlier you receive the diagnosis, the better chance we have of treating and managing the condition to prevent vision loss.
Q: What misconceptions do people have about glaucoma?
A: There are three things people typically get wrong about this eye condition. The first is that sight loss is caused by age alone, in fact, it's not uncommon for people to be unaware of the condition until they get a glaucoma diagnosis. The second is that many people believe that a diagnosis means they will go blind.
However, the reality is that 95 per cent of people do not lose their sight, if they are monitored and receive treatment. Glaucoma can’t be cured, but it can be treated effectively, to ensure the condition doesn’t progress.
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The last misconception is that glaucoma is caused by habitual actions, such as too much reading or overusing computers and screens. However, the reality is that glaucoma is most often the result of an individual’s genetics, and is a hereditary condition.
Q: What treatments are available for glaucoma?
A: Our Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) therapy is extremely precise. Due to their efficiency, safety and accuracy, lasers have become one of the top treatments for glaucoma. In 80 per cent of cases, the procedure successfully lowers pressure in the eye, helping to treat glaucoma.
There are fewer side effects with SLT therapy than using eye drops, no risk of infection, and treatment can last for up to three to five years, and can be repeated if needed.
Q: What can happen if glaucoma is left untreated?
A: Left unmanaged, glaucoma can result in total sight loss. The higher the pressure, and the longer you have glaucoma, the higher the risk of going blind.
However, thanks to the use of advanced screening technology, we’re able to detect glaucoma far easier and earlier than ever before, and with the ever-increasing safety of our lasers and surgery equipment, can provide the treatment you need quickly.
If you have any concerns regarding your eyesight, I recommend seeking professional medical advice as soon as you can. We can put your mind at ease, and ensure your vision remains sharp so you can focus on looking ahead to the future.
For information about the glaucoma treatments available or to book an appointment, visit londonoc.co.uk or call 020 7000 3193.
Quote EYECar for a free return chauffeured car from the Home Counties for all new glaucoma and cataract consultations.