Glaucoma – the Silent Thief of Sight


Glaucoma is the silent thief of vision.

It progresses slowly and without symptoms. As one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in Australia, it is estimated that over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, but 50% are undiagnosed. Early detection and adherence to treatment are vital to slow the progression of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is hereditary. You are ten times more likely to develop glaucoma if you have a direct family member with glaucoma.

It’s time to talk to your family about family history.


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to the progressive damage to the optic nerve which carries vision information from the eye to the brain. The eye produces a clear fluid known as aqueous humor.

This liquid nourishes the eye and holds the eye in shape. As new fluid is produced, it drains out through the anterior chamber angle.

If there is damage to this drain mechanism, the rate of production of the aqueous humor becomes greater than the rate the eye can drain it, causing high Intra-ocular pressure.

This increased pressure begins to damage the optic nerve which lies at the back of the eye.

The optic nerve is made up of approximately one million nerve fibres which connect the back of the eye to the brain. Damage to the cells of the optic nerve results in irreversible damage to your eyesight.

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

At first, Glaucoma usually doesn’t have any symptoms. There is no pain or discomfort and visual changes may not be recognised until the disease has progressed. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Loss of side vision (peripheral vision)
  • Painless blurred vision
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light
  • Poor vision in dim light which may lead to falls or a loss of confidence
  • If untreated the continued loss of peripheral vision can lead to tunnel vision or blindness.

Detection of Glaucoma

Early detection and treatment of this condition can prevent or delay vision loss. As there are no early signs or symptoms of this disease, regular eye health checks are essential. Only an optometrist or an ophthalmologist can determine whether you have glaucoma or not.
During a glaucoma exam your eye health practitioner will:

  • Measure your eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP)
  • Inspect your eye’s drainage angle.
  • Examine your optic nerve for damage.
  • Test your central and peripheral (side) vision.
  • Take scanned measurement of your optic nerve.
  • Measure the thickness of your cornea.

The combined results of the above tests will determine the diagnosis of glaucoma. No single test can lead to a diagnosis.

Treatment of Glaucoma

Early detection and an appropriate treatment plan will minimise the damage to vision caused by glaucoma.

  • Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment to lower the pressure in the eye and prevent damage to the optic nerve.
  • Laser treatment performed by an ophthalmologist to drain the fluid is a simple procedure.
  • Surgery may be suggested if the less invasive treatments are not as successful as desired.

For more information:  https://www.glaucoma.org.au/

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Dwyer & Ross Optometrists

266 Oxley Avenue
Margate, QLD 4019

(07) 3883 1810