Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions which cause optic nerve damage and can affect your vision. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve at the point where it leaves your eye.
Glaucoma is caused when there is damage to the optic nerve, caused either by raised eye pressure or weakness in the nerve. In most cases, both of these factors are involved. The eye needs ‘pressure’ to keep the eyeball in shape to make it work properly. However, if the optic nerve comes under too much pressure, it can become damaged. The amount of damage there is depends on how high the pressure is and how long it lasts, and whether there is a poor blood supply or other weakness of the optic nerve.
There are four main types of glaucoma:
- Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) also known as chronic glaucoma
- Acute angle closure glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma
- Developmental glaucoma
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, an ophthalmologist will assess your condition and you will require regular appointments, at least at the outset, to make sure you are responding to treatment and that your eye pressure is in the right range for you and it is stable. With time, and if your eye pressure stays stable, you may only require an appointment once every six or 12 months. It is very important that appointments are kept to check your eye pressure continues to be stable. On each visit, you will have the pressure measured in the eye, the visual field tested and the back of your eye examined using drops to dilate your pupil.