In the UK about 2% of the population over 40 years of age will suffer from a form of glaucoma.
Vision is effected by damage to the optic nerve, which, if left untreated could cause blindness.
The most common reason for this damage is ' raised pressure' within the eye although it is also possible to sustain nerve damage if the nerve is inherently weak.
Eye pressure is NOT usually linked to high blood pressure. The eye needs a certain amount of pressure to retain its shape and to work properly. This pressure is attained by balancing fluid production and secretion. If this balance is upset ( by secretions being blocked) increased pressure may result.
When the blockage takes place over a long period of time, the condition is usually painless although vision can be impaired. This is referred to as chronic or open angle glaucoma.
When the blockage occurs quickly, it can be painful and this is referred to as acute glaucome or closed angle glaucoma. Vision can be permanently impaired if this form of glaucoma is not quickly treated.
Your optometrist or optician will check for glaucoma during a routine eye test. If a member of your family has glaucoma, be sure to mention this. Further information issued by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists about glaucoma can be found on the left hand side of this page.