An eye disease, related to high pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Glaucoma affects peripheral, or side, vision. It can also affect central vision in the later stages of the disease. The optic nerve carries information from the retina, the light sensitive layer in the eye, to the brain which it sees as a picture. Progressive damage to the optic nerve from a build-up of pressure inside the eye due to ineffective or blocked drainage channels can be detected through eye examinations and special tests.
In the early stages there may be little effect realised as changes to the field of vision are very subtle. A loss of contrast or difficulty driving at night may be an indication. Early loss is sometimes in the shape of an arc a little above or below the centre when looking straight ahead but if untreated will spread out and up to eventually form what is known as “tunnel vision”, like looking through a long tube.
Treatment can be in the form of eyedrops to reduce the pressure in the eye and if needed laser treatment to open the drainage channels. For acute glaucoma where pressure rises rapidly, pain accompanies the condition and hospital treatment will be needed to relieve both the pain and the pressure using drugs and laser treatment or a small operation to reduce the obstruction to the drainage channels.