What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition where the nerve at the back of the eye – the optic nerve – becomes damaged over time. And that damage is irreversible. Glaucoma is still the commonest cause of preventable blindness worldwide. It is completely asymptomatic. By the time the person who has glaucoma notices they’ve got it, it’s too late to do anything about it. So it’s really, really important that we pick up glaucoma in its earliest forms because at that stage it is treatable and people will maintain their vision lifelong.

Now people often say that glaucoma has to do with high pressure in the eye and that can be the case.

But you can still have glaucoma even if the pressure in the eye is normal. So the pressure is an important thing that we think about, but you can still have glaucoma damage even if your pressure is within the normal range. We think about glaucoma whenever we go to the opticians because they will always do a pressure test when you attend to have your glasses checked. The rules are very clear: If your pressure is high on two occasions, then we’ll ordinarily advise you to seek a specialist opinion. And it’s important that you take that opportunity to have it looked into further. So that if it is something that affects you we can see you at the earliest possible opportunity and advice you on the best way to proceed with treatment for you.

More about Laura Crawley

Ms Laura Crawley is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Clinica London, Imperial College Western Eye Hospital, and The London Clinic. Her special expertise is in treating glaucoma patients as well as patients with glaucoma and cataracts. She has a lot of experience in treating glaucoma and has published extensively in scientific journals and on medical education. She still does a lot of emergency operations at the emergency department at the Charing Cross and Western Eye Hospitals for the NHS. At Clinica London, she is responsible for glaucoma patients and glaucoma patients with cataracts. She also sees patients with general eye problems.