Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of irreversible blindness. It is a result of an increase in the pressure of the eye (intraocular pressure) which causes progressive damage to the optic nerve.
In most cases the condition progresses slowly and insidiously, and the patient is not often aware of the condition until a late stage. By the time the patient notices a deterioration of vision, there is often already moderate to severe damage of the optic nerve. This is why this disease has been called the “silent thief of sight”. Because of the seriousness of the condition and the fact that in the early phase of the disease there are minimal symptoms, glaucoma eye screening is very useful in picking up early disease so that prompt treatment may be started.
Early detection and treatment of glaucoma is important in preventing further damage and visual loss. The patient should see an eye specialist who will be able to determine if glaucoma is present and to assess its severity.
There is no cure for glaucoma but in most cases it can be successfully controlled with medical, laser or surgical treatment. Patients will require long-term follow-up to ensure that the glaucoma control is adequate.