Mr Venki Sundaram
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MD FRCOphth MRCOphth BMBCh BSc

Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye (or intraocular) pressure is too high, and this can cause damage to the optic nerve, which can result in a loss of peripheral vision. If untreated, the loss of vision can extend to involve loss of central vision too.

What causes glaucoma?

In most cases there is no specific cause of the raised intraocular pressure and can be considered to be due to an imbalance between how much aqueous fluid is produced by, and drains from the eye. Glaucoma is more common in people who have a family history of glaucoma, are short-sighted, diabetic or have high blood pressure. Glaucoma can sometimes also be caused by inflammation within the eye or injury to the eye.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Generally, there are no symptoms except in moderate to severe cases, where the loss of peripheral vision can extend in to affect the central vision, which patients will be aware of. In a rarer type of glaucoma called acute glaucoma, there is a sudden rise in intraocular pressure and this can cause blurred vision, eye pain, headache and nausea.

How is glaucoma treated?

The main aim of glaucoma therapy is to reduce the intraocular pressure, and in most cases this can be achieved using eye drops, which either reduce the amount of fluid that is produced in the eye, or increase the amount of fluid that is drained from the eye. Some patients may require additional treatment in the form of laser therapy or an operation to create an additional drainage channel from the eye.

Glaucoma diagram