Understanding Glaucoma | What causes glaucoma, how is it diagnosed and how is it treated

Understanding Glaucoma | What causes glaucoma, how is it diagnosed and how is it treated


Hello there my name is Gok Ratnarajan
and I’m a consultant ophthalmic surgeon based here at the McIndoe. My main
areas of specialty are glaucoma and cataract surgery. Glaucoma is a disease
where the optic nerve is damaged, the optic nerve is a nerve that runs from
the back of the eye to the brain. Glaucoma often causes very subtle and
often unnoticeable changes in the visual field and hence why it’s often called
the silent thief of sight. The most common and the most important risk
factor for glaucoma is raised pressure in the eye and that raised pressure in
the eye is what damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma is picked up by having a
thorough eye examination. It’s often picked up by your optometrist when you go and
have your routine eye test where they will measure the pressure in the eye and
have a look at the optic nerve. If they feel there is something suspicious of
glaucoma they’ll refer you to your ophthalmologist for further tests. Traditionally the first line of
treatment for glaucoma is eyedrops and if the pressure in the eye is not
controlled or the glaucoma is getting worse and laser or surgery is required.
However, there have been many developments over the last decade in
which new laser treatments are available as well as a new type of surgery called
minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. The advantages of these new procedures such
as minimally invasive glaucoma surgery is the speed and safety. The recovery
from the surgeries is very very quick and the safety profile is very high. An
added benefit is it can be easily combined with cataract surgery which
patients often have as well. You will need to have a full assessment with a glaucoma consultant who specialises in minimally invasive glaucoma surgery and
they will discuss the potential benefits for you. The main reasons for having
minimally invasive glaucoma surgery is to get you off your eye drops or if your
glaucoma is progressing to lower the pressure to prevent further damage
because once you’ve lost field of vision from glaucoma you can’t get it back. The latest innovation that I’m doing in glaucoma surgery is combining minimally
invasive glaucoma surgeries so implanting stents to improve the
drainage of fluid from the eye and a bit of gentle laser to reduce the production
of fluid in the eye gives a combined effect of lowering the pressure quite
significantly but still offering excellent safety profile and again
easily combined with cataract surgery. In fact we’re just publishing our one-year
results which are very promising indeed. Glaucoma is a serious condition, in fact
glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. I can’t
stress the importance of getting your eyes tested regularly particularly if
there’s a family history of glaucoma. If we can catch glaucoma early with the
treatment options that we have available we can prevent it getting worse.

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