Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many tiny nerve fibres, which can be damaged by glaucoma. This causes a change in the way the optic nerve looks on examination, and leads to loss of peripheral vision. Sometimes, your doctor can only tell if you have glaucoma by watching you over time. Your doctor will follow you by checking your eye pressure, looking at your optic nerve (with or without pictures) and having you do a visual field test to measure your peripheral vision.

I have high pressure in my eye, do I have glaucoma?

High pressure inside the eye is only one risk factor for glaucoma. This means that some people have high pressure and never get glaucoma, and some people have glaucoma without ever having a high pressure. Eye pressure is not related to blood pressure.

How is glaucoma treated?

The goal of glaucoma treatment is to prevent further damage to the optic nerve and the peripheral vision. Unfortunately, we can not get back any vision that was already lost to glaucoma. The most common treatment for glaucoma is an eye drop, but some people may also benefit from a laser treatment. In severe glaucoma, surgery may also be needed.

I hate visual field tests. Do I have to do them?

A visual field test is the only way to measure your peripheral vision. This test is necessary to make a diagnosis of glaucoma and to see if the disease is progressing. It is a frustrating and difficult test. Many people feel like they have “failed”, which is a totally normal feeling.

Is glaucoma genetic?

People with a family history of glaucoma are at a higher risk of getting glaucoma, but it is not a guarantee. If your family members have mild glaucoma, yours is also likely to be mild. If your family members have severe glaucoma, you are also at higher risk of severe vision loss.