State-of-the-art eye care from leading consultant ophthalmologists
Glaucoma is a common eye condition that can affect vision and cause permanent loss of sight. Glaucoma is most frequently caused by fluid build-up in the front of the eye. The pressure levels in the eye increase, damaging the optic nerve that transmits signals from the eye to the brain.
Glaucoma can cause sight loss if it isn't diagnosed early and treated effectively. The world-leading ophthalmologists at London Medical's Private Eye Centre are experts in identifying and treating glaucoma. Using cutting-edge equipment and the latest medical advances, they can help protect your vision, so that you can continue to live life to the full.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause visual impairment and sight loss by damaging the optic nerve that connects the eye and the brain.
There is a delicate pressure balance in the eye that helps to maintain eye shape, health and function. Glaucoma can be caused by increased pressure due to fluid build-up or because of problems within the optic nerve. The types of glaucoma include:
Primary open angle glaucoma or POAG: POAG is the most common type of glaucoma. It is a chronic eye condition in which pressure in the eye gradually increases causing progressive damage to the optic nerve and slow deterioration in eyesight.
- Acute angle closure glaucoma: The eye pressure suddenly rises because aqueous fluid drainage is blocked, causing pain and potentially rapid and permanent visual damage.
- Secondary glaucoma: Glaucoma can develop following injury, surgery or as a complication of medication.
- Congenital glaucoma: Very rarely glaucoma can affect young babies.
Having problems with your eyes can be frightening, but prompt treatment of glaucoma can prevent sight loss. At this stressful time London Medical can provide expert medical care, one-stop-shop service to avoid multiple clinic visits and facilities designed to be friendly for people with impaired vision.
Could I have glaucoma?
It’s important to have regular eye checks because, very often, glaucoma can be a silent condition. Many people with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma have no symptoms until their vision is permanently damaged. Anyone with deteriorating vision should seek specialist assessment and advice. London Medical offers a daily clinic with leading ophthalmologists and optometry care, so that you can quickly access expert opinion. It’s important to be seen if you’ve noticed:
- Visual changes: Glaucoma tends to affect the peripheral vision first, so that your side vision is the first to deteriorate. These changes can be difficult to notice at an early stage, increasing the risk of irreversible damage. If there is optic nerve damage you may notice blind spots, problems seeing things in your peripheral vision or tunnel vision if the disease is more advanced.
- Eye pain and redness: The rapid eye pressure rise of acute angle closure glaucoma can make the eye suddenly become red and painful. You may also feel nauseous and unwell and may notice visual disturbance with rainbow-coloured rings appearing around white lights.
At the moment, no treatment can restore visual loss caused by glaucoma. However, London Medical offers treatments including eye drops and laser surgery to prevent damage and protect your eyes.
Glaucoma testing at London Medical
London Medical is equipped with the latest technology for accurately diagnosing eye disease. Investigations are carried out in the comfort of the state-of-the-art central London clinic. London Medical’s specialist optometrists and ophthalmologists offer comprehensive eye examinations and investigations to identify glaucoma at an early stage. These may include:
Examination of the optic nerve. Drops may be applied, to open up the pupils and facilitate close inspection of the back of the eye. They can affect your vision for a short time, so it’s sensible to come with a friend or family member.
- Measurement of eye pressure: This can be done by the puff of air test or using a fine, specialist instrument to accurately measure the pressure. Anaesthetic eye drops are used to maintain your comfort during the procedure.
- Assessment of field of vision: Blind spots, field defects and missing areas of vision can be identified using a computerised device.
- Measurement of corneal thickness: This can be useful for some patients because it improves the accuracy of pressure measurements.
- Gonioscopy: A mirrored lens is used to examine the angle at which the aqueous fluid drains away.
Your consultant will take time to discuss the results of your tests and develop an individual treatment plan.
Glaucoma treatment at London Medical
London Medical is a leading centre for the treatment of eye diseases including glaucoma. Your consultant ophthalmologist will customise a treatment plan to lower the pressure in your eye, prevent damage to your optic nerve and protect your vision.
Everyone’s eyes are different, your specialist will set a ‘target eye pressure’ that is safe for you.
For primary open-angle glaucoma treatment could include:
- Eye drops: Application of eye drops can lower the eye pressure and prevent damage to the optic nerve. The medication can either reduce the amount of fluid produced or improve drainage of aqueous fluid and reduce the pressure. For most people, drops are usually sufficient to control their glaucoma, however they need to be applied regularly, for life, to keep the condition under control.
- Glaucoma surgery: Around one in twenty people with glaucoma have eye pressures which cannot be controlled by drops or laser. In these cases, the expert ophthalmologists at London Medical can operate to control the condition. Trabeculectomy is the most commonly performed surgical procedure. The specialist surgeon creates a new drainage channel in the eye to allow aqueous fluid to drain and lower the eye pressure. Other operations can also be beneficial, your consultant will assess your eyes and recommend the surgery that best meets your needs.
- Laser therapy: Laser trabeculoplasty can modify the area of trabecular meshwork in the eye, helping fluid drain more efficiently and lowering eye pressure. At London Medical, laser treatments are carried out in the state-of-the-art clinic, as an outpatient procedure, under local anaesthetic. Most people recover rapidly, however ongoing eye drop treatment is usually necessary to maintain eye pressure levels.
- Treatment of acute closed angle glaucoma: Emergency treatment is important to lower the eye pressure and prevent visual loss.
- Medication to reduce pressure: Eye drops, tablets or injection can be administered to rapidly bring down the pressure, ease pain and restore vision. However, further treatment is important to prevent the condition recurring.
- Peripheral iridotomy: Your surgeon will use the latest laser device to create a small drainage hole in the iris. The channel helps aqueous fluid flow out of the eye, and is not usually noticeable cosmetically. The procedure is usually performed on both eyes to prevent glaucoma developing in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people with glaucoma are able to carry on driving, however you are required by law to report any condition which may affect your sight to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
If glaucoma affects both eyes you should inform the DVLA and they will assess your peripheral vision to check that you are safe to continue to drive.
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