The ‘silent thief of sight’
21 October 2019
Does someone in your family have glaucoma? Have you been told that your eye pressure is high or that you may suffer from glaucoma? Have you been tested for glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Yet, as it doesn’t usually give any symptoms, about half of all patients with glaucoma in the UK are not even aware they have it.
Our Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Mr Gerassimos Lascaratos, answers your frequently asked questions on Glaucoma:
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a type of disease of the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain) and it typically starts with changes in the peripheral vision that can be difficult to detect by patients.
The most common form of glaucoma, called primary open angle glaucoma, doesn’t usually give any pain or visual disturbance, unless it’s very advanced which is why it’s so important that you attend your regular annual check-up.
Special tests are required to detect it, which includes a check of the eye pressure (intraocular pressure), a test of the peripheral vision (visual field) and clinical examination of the optic nerve, followed by a special scan of the optic nerve (called optic disc OCT). Other more specialised tests may also be required, such as gonioscopy, which are better performed by a specialist consultant Ophthalmologist with expertise in glaucoma.
What causes glaucoma?
Why some people develop glaucoma and others don’t isn’t fully understood yet, but a number of causes have been recognised.
Age is a major risk factor, with almost 10% of people aged 75 and over having glaucoma.
Another main cause for glaucoma is raised eye pressure, although about a third of patients with glaucoma have a normal eye pressure.
The role of genetics in glaucoma is still being explored and about a third of patients have a blood relative with glaucoma.
Ethnicity also plays a role and glaucoma tends to be more common and aggressive, for example, in African, Caribbean and Asian patients.
Vascular factors, such as migraines, poor circulation in the hands or feet, or sudden loss of blood after an accident, should also be considered as they may influence the blood flow to the optic nerve causing damage.
Your individual risk factors will be discussed with you during the consultation and form the basis for our management plan.
What should I do if I’m concerned about glaucoma?
Here at Spire London East, I offer a comprehensive specialist glaucoma service to meet your needs. If you are concerned in any way about glaucoma, please do get in touch. We are here to ensure that you are provided with everything you need to know about glaucoma, and at your initial consultation you can expect to receive a range of tests and scans offering the latest imaging technology:
- Visual acuity test
- Intraocular pressure check
- Gonioscopy to evaluate the drainage angle
- Visual field test
- Optic disc imaging (OCT)
- Corneal pachymetry
- Fundoscopy to examine the optic nerve
I will review all of the information gathered and recommend a treatment plan, explaining all possible options.
Can glaucoma be treated?
It is important to remember that while sight loss from glaucoma is irreversible, when detected at an early stage there are plenty of treatments available to stabilise the condition and reduce the risk of losing more sight.
Treatment for glaucoma is life long and often involves the use of eye drops to lower the eye pressure by reducing the amount of fluid being produced in the eye, or by improving fluid drainage. Often laser may be a better option for you to lower the eye pressure before considering drops.
Together with traditional surgical techniques we can also offer different types of laser and cutting edge minimally invasive glaucoma surgery procedures, which have a better safety profile than traditional glaucoma surgery.
I have extensive experience in this field and am the Principal Investigator at King’s College Hospital for several interventional glaucoma clinical trials.
If you have concerns regarding glaucoma, or any other ophthalmology treatments, then Mr Gerassimos Lascaratos is available to see you at Spire London East Hospital. Contact our Private Patient Executives on 020 8709 7817 for his availability.
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.