Glaucoma Screening

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that can occur at any age but is more common in older people.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in New Zealand

When diagnosed early, blindness from glaucoma is almost always controllable with ongoing treatment. In these situations the likelihood of losing sight is reduced.

Glaucoma is commonly associated with increased pressure within the eye but the term glaucoma actually refers to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve is slowly damaged.

How Does Glaucoma Affect My Sight?

Uncontrolled glaucoma will initially cause deficiencies in the peripheral vision. People often don’t notice these until considerable damage is caused.

Although damage usually progresses very slowly, it is irreversible. Treatment cannot recover vision that has already been lost but it can slow down the damage process.

How It Is Glaucoma Detected

Everyone, especially those over 40, should have their eyes examined at least every two years to check that no eye health problems are present or developing.

Tests include assessing the appearance of the optic nerve head, measuring the pressure in the eye, and analysing the complete field of vision. If any signs of glaucoma are detected, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation.

Risk Factors For Developing Glaucoma

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Myopia
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Migraine
  • Eye injury
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Past or present use of ‘steroid’ drugs

Glaucoma Therapy & Treatment

Medicated eye drops are the most common form of treatment. These eye drops are formulated to reduce the internal pressure in the eye.

Laser trabeculoplasty is used when eye drops cannot lower the pressure sufficiently. Eye drops may still be needed after laser treatment.

The surgical trabeculoplasty procedure creates a new channel for fluid to flow out of the eye. In the event that eye drops and laser treatments have not been successful, this treatment can be used.

It is important to have regular eye exams because these treatments can save remaining vision.