What is Glaucoma?


Glaucoma is a common condition that can affect anyone. It is where the optic nerve at the back of the eye becomes damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye. This damage can start to cause problems with your peripheral vision, and if left untreated it can cause permanent damage. The condition is also usually linked with raised eye pressure.

Whilst the condition can affect anyone, it is most common in adults aged 70 and over. There are several different types of glaucoma, including congenital, when a baby is born with glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma in the UK is primary open angle glaucoma, which means that damage and changes to your sight happen slowly over time.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Unfortunately, symptoms do not usually present themselves when a person develops glaucoma. This means that the condition is often picked up during an eye test. The condition tends to develop slowly and affect your peripheral vision (edges of your vision) first. If you do experience symptoms, these might include blurred vision and rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights.

In rare cases, glaucoma can develop suddenly, in which you would experience headaches, blurred vision, rings around lights, eye pain, red eye, nausea and vomiting. If this happens you should go to A&E immediately.

Can glaucoma be treated?

Any vision loss that occurs prior to diagnosis cannot be reversed but managing the condition after diagnosis can stop vision loss from getting worse. You may need laser eye treatment or surgery to reduce the production of fluid in your eyes or to open the blocked drainage tubes and improve drainage of fluid. Eye drops will also help to reduce the pressure in your eyes. Some researchers also recommend partaking in moderate exercise to reduce eye pressure. Of course, you should talk about treatment plans with your doctor.

For at home treatments, we recommend using:

Macushield: These supplements will improve eye health and slow down the onset of sight threatening conditions.

Systane Ultra: These eyedrops will help to relieve the pressure in your eyes, though any of our eye drops will be able to help with this. Using eye drops regularly keeps the pressure under control and stops your eyesight getting worse.

Can Glaucoma be Prevented?

Glaucoma cannot usually be completely prevented; however, symptoms can be picked up early through routine eye checks – often before any noticeable symptoms present themselves to the patient. If it is detected and treated early, this can help in delaying the onset of severe symptoms or vision loss and could even stop your vision getting any worse at all.

Therefore, the best way to prevent serious eye damage and vision loss due to glaucoma is to get regular vision checks.

Am I at Increased Risk?

Risk factors according to the NHS include:

  • Your age (More common in people over 60)
  • Ethnicity – People of African, Caribbean or Asian descent are at a higher risk
  • Family history – you are more likely to develop glaucoma if a parent or sibling has the condition
  • Other medical conditions such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness and diabetes.

If you need further assistance with learning about and managing glaucoma, look at the resources below: