Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye disorders in which the optic nerve (the nerve at the back of the eye) is damaged, often in association with raised pressure within the eye. Initially this results in small blind spots that you are not aware of. As the disease progresses the blind spots enlarge reducing your peripheral vision and your ability to see clearly. In most cases glaucoma sufferers will experience no symptoms until significant damage has occurred meaning early detection is vital.

Who is at risk from glaucoma?

People aged 40 and over are at greater risk from glaucoma. Those with a family history of glaucoma in close relatives, or in certain ethnic groups (e.g. African-Caribbean people) are considered to have a higher risk.

How do we check for glaucoma?

At RJ Naisbitt Optometry, South Hetton, Durham we perform a number of checks for glaucoma during your eye examination:

Slit lamp biomicroscopy – this instrument allows to examine the optic nerve at the back of your eye to check for signs of glaucomatous damage.

Digital retinal photography – we will take a photograph of the optic nerve and store this for future comparison. This allows us to detect any early changes more accurately.

Visual field assessment – testing the field of vision using small points of light to check for blind spots.

Tonometry – measuring the pressure within the eye, either using an instrument that emits a small puff of air onto the surface of the eye, or placing a probe against the eye. If you don’t like the “puff of air” test,  our new Icare tonometer enables us to measure your eye pressure without you even noticing – please ask for details.

What can be done?

If we suspect glaucoma, we will refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) usually at Sunderland Eye Infirmary. If detected early enough, glaucoma can usually be treated. In most cases eye drops to reduce the pressure in the eye will be prescribed.

To aid detection of glaucoma, we recommend an eye examination every two years, or more frequently if there is a family history of the condition. .

Glaucoma sufferers and certain close relatives are entitled to a free eye examination provided by the NHS. Those diagnosed as being at risk of developing glaucoma are also eligible.

If you have any concerns or queries, please telephone 0191 5208059 to make an appointment at RJ Naisbitt Optometry in South Hetton, Durham.