What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions which damage the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from the light sensitive layer in your eye, the retina, to the brain where it is perceived as an image. The retina can be thought of as akin to the ‘film’ of a camera where light is focused. The information is then sent along the optic nerve.
All glaucomas have certain key features in common. These are increased pressure inside the eye, ‘cupping’ of the optic disc, and loss of the peripheral visual field. Any two of these 3 features is usually enough for there to be very strong risk of having glaucoma.
How common is glaucoma?
It is one of the most common reasons for blindness in the Western world. There are several different types. These include chronic simple glaucoma (the commonest type), acute glaucoma, congenital glaucoma and secondary glaucoma`s which arise secondary to some other condition or influence.
Who gets chronic glaucoma?
There are several ‘risk factors’ for developing chronic glaucoma. These are:
- Age – Chronic glaucoma is uncommon below the age of 40, but affects 1% of people over this age and 5% over 65.
- Race – People of Afro-Caribbean origin have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
- Family History – There is a ‘genetic’ element to glaucoma. If a close relative (parent/sibling) has Glaucoma, you should not worry, but ensure you have regular check-ups to detect any changes as early as possible, should they ever occur.
- Myopia – Very short-sighted people are more at risk of developing chronic glaucoma.