During this year’s World Glaucoma Awareness Week (6th to 12th March) doctors in Lancashire and South Cumbria are encouraging local residents to take part in their routine eye tests.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It is usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye, which can lead to reduced vision or even blindness.
At the start of this condition, there are no symptoms as glaucoma develops slowly over the years and affects the edges of your vision first (peripheral vision), for this reason many people do not realise they have it.
If glaucoma is picked up early, it can be managed and it is recommended that people have their eyes tested at least every two years. During the eye tests measurements of the pressure inside your eye and tests of your peripheral vision will be taken. These tests are painless.
Please seek urgent medical attention should you develop any of the following symptoms:
intense eye pain
nausea and vomiting
a red eye
tenderness around the eyes
seeing rings around lights
Dr Rahul Thakur, GP and clinical lead in Diabetes for Lancashire National Diabetes Prevention Programme said: “Glaucoma can cause serious damage to your eyes and in worst case scenarios it can even lead to blindness. This is why it is important to diagnose the problem during the early stages of the illness and the best way to do this is have regular eye tests, at least once every 2 years.
“I would strongly encourage all patients to take part in their routine eye tests at least once every two years so if anyone does develop glaucoma it can be diagnosed early to prevent any long-term problems. If you are 40 or over and your mother, father, sibling or child has been diagnosed with glaucoma you are entitled to a free eye test.”
If tests suggest you have glaucoma you will be referred to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to discuss treatment.
There are a number of ways to treat glaucoma including taking eye drops to reduce the pressure in your eyes, laser treatment to open up the blocked drainage tubes in your eyes or surgery to improve the drainage of fluid from your eyes.
If you need any more information about glaucoma, or to find out what to do if you feel you are experiencing any symptoms visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/glaucoma/.