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What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. It can be linked to having high pressure of fluid within the eye although this is not always the case.

There are two main types of glaucoma: acute closed angle glaucoma and chronic open angle glaucoma. 

Acute glaucoma is when due to a rapid rise in eye pressure the optic nerve is damaged immediately risking a sudden loss of vision.

Chronic glaucoma is where due to normal or a slow rise in pressure the optic nerve is slowly damaged resulting in a gradual loss of vision. 

If left untreated glaucoma can cause loss of sight. Approximately 10% of the UK’s blind registrations are due to glaucoma.

Investigating glaucoma

Glaucoma is detectable thrGlaucoma can be detected through a routine eye examination via a myriad of checks. 

These include examining the back of your eye namely the optic nerve, measuring eye pressure, checking your field of vision and taking photographs and scans of the back of your eye.


If your optometrist suspects glaucoma, then you will normally be referred to an ophthalmologist to confirm the condition and start treatment.

Glaucoma is usually treated with daily use of eye drops to reduce the eye pressure. In some cases, people may need laser treatment or surgery to allow for a better flow of fluid through the eye. 

Even though damage cannot be reversed, the aim of treating is to retain and preserve your vision.

Risk factors

There are many factors that increase your chances of developing glaucoma:

  • age is the biggest risk factor as glaucoma is more common as we get older
    However, your risk also increases
  • if you have a close relative with glaucoma,
  • if you are of African ethnic origin,
  • if you have Diabetes

Having a glasses prescription can also increase your chances of developing glaucoma:

  • being severely short-sightedness increases the risk of chronic glaucoma,
  • being long-sighted increases the risk of acute glaucoma.