Glaucoma is the most common preventable cause of blindness in Western countries. In the UK, it affects approximately 1 in 50 people over the age of 40. It is more common in people who have relatives with glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition often associated with elevated pressure within the eye. This gradually damages the delicate nerve of the eye. This can cause permanent visual loss if left untreated. Unfortunately, by the time someone notices that they are having problems from glaucoma; they may already have lost a considerable amount of vision that cannot be recovered. Glaucoma can take many years to develop, so tests to diagnose glaucoma may need to be repeated.
What can be done?
Fortunately screening tests can pick up people who are at risk of early glaucoma and these state of the art tests are all available at the PPC of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. If glaucoma is detected and treated early enough, visual loss is preventable. The secret to effective glaucoma management is early diagnosis, effective treatment and identifying those at highest risk of glaucoma damage.
Below is some further information about glaucoma screening and treatment. If you would like to talk with us about our treatments or have any questions, please contact us.
What can MREH surgeons do?
At the Private Patient Centre, our Consultant Ophthalmologists will deliver rapid access treatment at the earliest opportunity for those where a diagnosis of glaucoma is made as well as providing prompt reassurance and peace of mind to patients who do not have glaucoma.
Tests to diagnose glaucoma
No single test can diagnose glaucoma and several investigations are recommended. At Manchester Royal Eye Hospital’s state of the art glaucoma testing will be used, with a guarantee that these tests will be interpreted by an experienced Consultant Ophthalmologist. They will then personally advise about treatment and future follow up.
Measurement of the intraocular pressure
Firstly anaesthetic eyedrops are instilled. A delicate instrument (known as a tonometer) is gently placed on the surface of the eye and a pressure reading is taken. The procedure takes less than a minute and is completely painless. This method is more accurate than the puff of air that is often used by opticians and most patients find it more comfortable.
Field of Vision
There are many instruments which can be used to measure visual fields (peripheral vision); the Humphrey Computerised Visual Field Analyser is generally regarded to be the best. Tiny spots of light appear at various times and the patient presses a button to record when they see the lights. A chart showing any areas of visual loss is developed and printed. The test takes about 4 minutes to perform for each eye and once again, it is completely painless.
Scanning devices such as ocular coherence topography (OCT) and digital photography are used to record the back of the eye. These images provide a useful baseline for future patients and can help to detect change.
What treatment is available?
There are three types of treatment available for patients with glaucoma or raised pressure; eye drops, laser treatment and surgery.
Most patients will be treated with eye drops. These are usually well tolerated and effective. In some patients, irritation or sore eyes can be a problem. In this case, there are alternative drops and sometimes preservative-free treatment which can help.
Laser treatment can be used as a solution if it is a problem to use eye drops or to supplement them. Manchester Royal Eye Hospital’s consultants, use the most up to date industry treatment practice, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). This treatment is painless, quick and safe. It can be repeated where necessary.
For some patients, surgery is the best option. We generally offer glaucoma surgery to patients in two situations:
Firstly, where a patient has a pre-existing cataract; we can enhance the surgery to help lower the pressure and reduce/remove the need for drops. This can be done by inserting a tiny stent (i-stent) which lowers the pressure.
Secondly, where a patient has a significant risk of visual loss, or where other treatments are ineffective, we can perform conventional glaucoma surgery. Surgery is performed under local anaesthetic and takes approximately half an hour.
I have raised eye pressure, do I need treatment?
Not necessarily; some patients can be monitored and may never need treatment. Some may need treatment later.
If I have glaucoma, will I eventually go blind?
Generally, the answer is NO. With careful treatment and regular care, the vast majority of patients will keep their vision. Those at highest risk of losing vision are those that develop glaucoma at a young age (less than 60) and/or those who already have advanced glaucoma when it is detected. We recommend that such patients are seen by one of our glaucoma specialists who can offer the full range of treatment options.
How do I make an appointment?
Your Consultant’s secretary will be able to assist you with availability and costs for your chosen consultant. You can find their contact details by clicking on the link below or visiting the Consultants section.
For further information or to book a consultation contact: