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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition causing damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure within the eye.  The optic nerve carries sight images to the brain and therefore damage to this nerve will result in gradual loss of peripheral vision and eventual blindness, unless diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

There are usually no warning signs for glaucoma which is one of the world's leading causes of blindness.  In the UK, one in fifty people over the age of forty have this condition.  It is therefore important to have regular eye tests which will help detect the onset of the disease, particularly if you have a family history of glaucoma as it tends to be hereditary. 

Treatment for Glaucoma

Whichever course of treatment you are prescribed, it is essential that you follow this as not doing so may result in further loss of sight.

Glaucoma is treated with eye drops, and sometimes tablets, which can stabilise the condition.   You should ensure you have regular check-ups in order to manage the condition and although you will experience some degree of sight loss, this will be minimised with appropriate treatment.  Glaucoma cannot be cured, therefore you will need to continue your treatment throughout life.

Eye Drops

Eye drops are usually prescribed when glaucoma is first diagnosed.  It is essential to use your eyedrops properly and as prescribed by your doctor to try and prevent any further sight loss.  You may find that the drops sting when first applied and some do have other side effects.

If you notice breathlessness with any eyedrops, you should stop the drops immediately and consult your General Practitioner.  Some drops are not suitable for asthmatics and if you have a chest or heart condition you should inform your doctor.


Sometimes it may be necessary for your doctor to prescribe tablets to relieve the pressure at the back of the eye by reducing the amount of aqueous produced within the eye. 

The tablets initially increase the amount of urine and salts leaving the body.   This may cause some patients to experience nausea and tiredness and / or  tingling in their hands or feet.  You should inform your specialist if you experience any of these side effects whilst taking the tablets.



In some forms of glaucoma, surgery (trabeculectomy) may sometimes be required to open fluid channels within the eye and prevent further pressure build-up.


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Page last updated on Saturday, 25 June 2005 12:36:28


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