July is Glaucoma Awareness Month

July 5, 2014

In July we are donating to Glaucoma New Zealand from every eye examination.

Glaucoma-the leading cause of preventable blindness

1. What is Glaucoma?

A condition where the fluid pressure inside the eye rises above normal, causing progressive damage to parts of the optic nerve. The pressure which may cause a problem varies between individuals markedly. This leads to a gradual and permanent loss of vision. Because the loss of vision is away from the direct line of clearest vision, a person may not notice any change to their sight until a considerable reduction to the field of vision has occurred.

2. How is glaucoma detected?

Our optometrists check for glaucoma as an essential part of the regular eye examination. Tests include assessing the optic nerve head appearance, measuring the fluid pressure in the eye, and analysing the visual field with a computerised visual field tester. Optic nerve head appearances are recorded with digital photography. A retinal scan with an Optical Coherence Tomographer  provides a detailed analysis of nerve fibre health. If any adverse features are detected the patient is referred to an ophthalmologist for further assessment.

3. Can glaucoma be treated?

Yes, it can be controlled with eye drops to lower the pressure inside the eye and further loss of sight is prevented in a majority of patients. However a percentage of patients will require laser or filtration surgery where drops are unsuccessful or not tolerated.


4. Who is at risk?

Anyone may develop glaucoma but it occurs more frequently as we get older. At age 70 10-15% of people are likely to have glaucoma. Other known risk factors are;

Family history of glaucoma 4-9x risk

Diabetes 2x

Migraine sufferers

Previous eye injury including blunt trauma

High myopia (short sightedness)

Regular and long term use of steroids

Raynaud’s syndrome (cold hands and feet)

5. How regularly should vision be checked?

We advise a routine eye examination every two years. However if there are risk factors yearly review or as advised by your optometrist is recommended. For further information see;