I can see everything I need to, so that means my eyes are fine…right? Wrong.
I wish it were that straightforward, but many eye conditions have no symptoms in the early stages, and this is when we want them to be picked up so that if there is a suitable treatment it can be started as soon as possible. We only get one set of eyes and we need to look after them.
One culprit of this is chronic glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of diseases in which the optic nerve (which connects your eye to the brain) becomes damaged. These damaged nerve fibres cannot be repaired or replaced. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision and blindness and most people who go blind with glaucoma are those in whom it was detected at a late stage. Glaucoma is very treatable, in most cases with the use of eyedrops daily, but early detection is key.
Who is at risk of chronic glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma; and the risk increases if you:
- Are over 40.
- Are short sighted.
- Have a close family history of glaucoma.
- Are diabetic.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Are of African or Caribbean origin.
How is chronic glaucoma detected?
As there are no symptoms in the early stages the best way to detect chronic glaucoma is to have regular eye examinations. If you are over 40 and have a close family history of glaucoma in a parent, sibling, or child the NHS will pay for your eye examination. As Optometrists we have several tests to help us detect changes in the optic nerve, and if any changes indicate further investigations are needed, then we can arrange for this to be carried out.
So keep up with your regular appointments as recommended your Optometrist, even if everything seems unchanged.