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WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is the name given to a type of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most patients, this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye - a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous (fluid in the eye), or its drainage. In other patients, the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibers, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibers themselves.



WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GLAUCOMA
Chronic (primary open-angle) glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type. It has no symptoms until eye sight is lost at an advance stage. POAG is often called "the silent thief of sight" Damage progresses very slowly and destroys vision gradually, starting with the peripheral vision, and results in tunnel vision. The patient remains unaware of any problem until a large part of the field of vision is lost. This damage is irreversible, progressive and usually relentless. Treatment cannot recover what has been lost. But it can arrest, or at least, slow down the damage process. That is why it is so important to detect the problem as early as possible, to be able to start treatment with as little damage to the vision as possible.


Normal Vision

The same scene as it might be viewed by a person with glaucoma “Tunnel Vision”



WHO IS AT RISK?
Although anyone can get glaucoma, individuals with a family history of glaucoma, individuals suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, migraine, high blood pressure and highly myopic eyes. Also at risk are those who had or are currently using steroid drugs and have had a history of severe trauma to the eye. Individuals in these groups should have a comprehensive eye examination at no later than the age of 30. For most people, it is however recommended to have an eye check for glaucoma by the age of 35. 



HOW IS GLAUCOMA DETECTED?
Regular eye examinations are the best way to detect glaucoma early. We test for glaucoma by usually visually inspecting the optic nerve head using an ophthalmoscope, checking the eye pressure (tonometry), and visual field screening which checks to ensure there is no visual field loss in the peripheral field. We also measure corneal thickness using ultrasound to ensure that the pressure readings are not influenced by too thick or too thin a cornea. The HRT II, a scanning laser tomographer, is also used to produce 3- dimensional images to examine the optic nerve head and provide us with precise measurements to monitor changes over time to ensure the condition is not progressing.



CAN GLAUCOMA BE TREATED?
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, it can usually be controlled and further loss of sight can be prevented or at least slowed down. Treatment can save remaining vision but it does not improve eye–sight. That is why early detection is essential to prevent vision loss.



FOLLOW UP
After treatment (eye drops and/or surgery), it is extremely important that you are monitored on a 3 monthly basis. We check on your eye pressure, visual fields and nerve head to ensure that the disease is not progressing. With instrumentation such as the HRT II we can ensure in the most accurate way the disease is not progressing and the pressure is well controlled with your current treatment.


 
 
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