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Glaucoma is a disease of the eye. It is the result of fluid pressure rising within the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause loss of vision and even blindness. The disease usually affects both eyes, although one may be more severely affected than the other.

Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight. It is progressive damage of the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibres that carries information from the eye to the brain). The optic nerve links the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, to the brain; any damage to the optic nerve can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Essentially, there is a small space in the front of the eye called the anterior chamber. Clear liquid flows in and out of this anterior chamber, nourishing and bathing nearby tissues. With glaucoma, the fluid drains too slowly out of the eye leading to fluid build-up, and pressure inside the eye.

Unless this pressure is brought down and controlled, the optic nerve and other parts of the eye can become damaged, leading to loss of vision.

Worldwide, it is estimated that about 66.8 million people have visual impairment from glaucoma, with 6.7 million suffering from blindness. Vision experts estimate that half of those affected by these eye conditions may not be aware they have glaucoma until it is too late.

The first step in ensuring your overall eye health is an eye exam.

What are the warning signs of glaucoma?

Glaucoma is most common among adults over the age of 60, individuals with a family history of the disease, and people of African and Asian descent. Other risk factors for glaucoma include diabetes, severe nearsightedness, previous eye injuries, steroid use and a history of severe anaemia.

While most glaucoma cases do not present symptoms in the early stages, there are some warning signs to look out for. These include:

Red-rimmed, swollen or crusty eyelids              Watery eyes
Dry eyes with itching or burning                          Double vision
Pain in or around the eyes                                     Dark spots at central vision
Squinting and light sensitivity                              Change in iris colour.

Don’t be caught by the vision thief!

If you experience eye fatigue and eye redness, you should make an appointment to see one our Auckland optometrists immediately. We have optometry practices in both Henderson and Newmarket where you can get a test for glaucoma

More severe signs of glaucoma include sudden blurred vision, sudden loss of vision in one eye, halos or rainbows around light, and black spots or flashes of light.

While these symptoms may not necessarily be related to glaucoma, the presence of at least one warrants a visit to see one of our optometrists at either Newmarket or Henderson for an eye examination as soon as possible. Call 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731 to make an appointment.

retinal-camera

See us for a glaucoma test

At John O’connor Optometrists we recently purchased a second retinal camera. We can now offer digital retinal photography at both our Henderson and Newmarket practices.

The retinal camera is useful for detecting diseases such as glaucoma. Retinal imaging is a non-invasive procedure and takes only seconds to complete. It allows our optometrists to see about 80% of the retina, whereas in a traditional eye exam the optometrist would only see 10 to 12% of the retina at a given time. The ability to view more makes it possible for us to test for glaucoma and detect even the earliest signs of disease.

All you would have to do is place your head on a chin rest with your forehead against a bar. The technician will then focus and align the instrument to focus on the back of the retina, and take the photograph. All you see is a bright flash. Done!

The charge for the retinal photos is $18 for both eyes ($9 per eye): such a very small price to pay for your vision.

Taking a retinal image and testing for glaucoma and other eye diseases at each annual eye exam gives our optometrists the opportunity to compare your photos from year to year; we can the discover even the most subtle changes to help monitor your eye health.

From there we can provide you with options so you’ll be in the position to make an informed and educated decision on what is right for you and your eyes.

We deliver peace of mind about the way you see the world, your sight.

See us for a stress-free test for glaucoma at our optometry practices in either Newmarket and Henderson. For your convenience both stores are open 6 days a week.