Why do we ask?
Glaucoma is a complex suite of diseases, often (but not always) caused by too much fluid pressure inside the eye.
Primarily, glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. It involves inflammatory pathways and the lack of nutrition and oxygen to the optic nerve. Vision is typically affected so slowly that people tend not to notice.
Untreated, glaucoma eventually causes blindness.
Fortunately there are many effective treatments for glaucoma - we just need to know if it’s there or not.
For most people, the only thing we need to do for glaucoma screening is to measure your eye pressure (our instrument does NOT use a puff of air).
When people have added risk factors, including sleep apnoea, steroid use, a history of regular migraines in women, diabetes, high blood pressure, unusual appearances to the optic nerve, or a family history of glaucoma, we’ll also use other techniques.
One of these techniques is the use of the Optical Coherence Tomographer (OCT). The images are similar to those seen in an MRI, and allow us to see your retinas and optic nerves in very fine detail, and to track any changes over time.
Another technique is peripheral vision testing. This allows us to see if any less sensitive areas are appearing where you won’t notice them.
For many patients, we’ll also obtain useful information with a Water Drink Test. This involves measuring eye pressures every 15 minutes after 1 litre of water is ingested. This produces a brief, controlled spike in eye pressures, giving us a better estimate of peak pressures.
If we suspect you have glaucoma, we’ll refer you to an eye specialist to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment.
Treatment usually consists of eye drops every day, sometimes surgery, and regular monitoring remains important.