The eye ball contains a fluid called aqueous humour which is constantly produced by the eye, with any excess drained through tubes. Glaucoma develops when the fluid cannot drain properly and pressure builds up, known as the intraocular pressure. This can damage the optic nerve (the optic nerve connects the eye to the brain) and the nerve fibres from the retina. This may affect one or both eyes.
Anyone can develop glaucoma. The risk of developing glaucoma goes up if you are:
The risk of glaucoma goes up as you get older. If one of your parents or children, a brother or sister has Glaucoma, and you are over 40 the NHS will pay for your eye examination.
Because you can't always feel the pressure in the eye and the damage happens slowly, you may not know you have Glaucoma until the damage has been done. This damage is irreversible so it is extremly important that you have regular eye examinations.
If you have glaucoma but do not treat it, your eyesight will gradually get worse, and you could eventually go blind.
However treatment with eye drops may prevent this.
Having regular eye tests is the best way to catch Glaucoma in its early stages. The optician will carry out a few tests to determine whether or not you suffer from Glaucoma.
The first test involves the Optometrist looking at the nerve at the back of the eye using a special torch called an Opthalmoscope, or a machine called a slit lamp. They may also take a photograph of the nerve. Your eye pressure will also be checked on every visit. Another test will invole your Optometrist checking your visual fields - how far you can see around you when looking straight.