Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, becomes damaged. It can lead to loss of vision if not detected and treated early on.

It usually occurs when the fluid in the eye (the aqueous humor) cannot drain properly, which increases the pressure inside the eye and puts pressure on the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a common condition, with 2% of people above the age of 40 suffering from the condition, but up to 50% of people won’t realise they have it because it doesn’t always cause symptoms in the early stages.

It can affect people of all ages, including babies and young children, but is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s.

What are the Symptoms

Glaucoma doesn’t usually have any symptoms to begin with and is often only picked up during a routine eye test. Many people don’t realise they have it because it develops slowly over many years, and tends to cause a loss of peripheral vision (the edge of your vision) at first.

Both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in one eye. Without treatment, it can eventually lead to blindness.

Very occasionally, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:

Causes of glaucoma

Test for Glaucoma

Glaucoma can usually be detected during a routine eye test at an opticians, often before it causes any noticeable symptoms. You should have a routine eye test at least every two years.

Several quick and painless tests can be carried out to check for glaucoma, including measurements of the pressure inside your eye and tests of your peripheral vision.

If tests suggest you have glaucoma, you should be referred to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to discuss treatment.

Treatments for glaucoma

It’s not possible to reverse any loss of vision that occurred before glaucoma was diagnosed, but treatment can help stop your vision getting any worse.

The treatment recommended for you will depend on the type of glaucoma you have, but the main treatments are:

  • eye drops – to reduce the pressure in your eyes
  • laser treatment – to open up the blocked drainage tubes in your eyes or reduce the
    production of fluid in your eyes
  • surgery – to improve the drainage of aqueous fluid from your eyes, thereby reducing the eye pressure

You’ll also probably need regular appointments to monitor your condition and ensure treatment is working.

Outlook for Glaucoma

The outlook for glaucoma largely depends on the type of glaucoma you have, but generally:

  • it often results in some degree of permanent vision loss, although most people retain
    useful vision for life
  • it may affect your ability to do certain tasks, such as driving
  • only a small proportion of people will end up totally blind

The outlook is better the earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and treated.

This is why it’s so important to get your eyes tested regularly and to make sure you follow your recommended treatment plan.

Our Clinic Locations

Where to find us

The London Clinic Eye Centre

119 Harley Street, Marylebone, London W1G 5AU

The Circle Hospital

Runnymede Hospital, Ottershaw, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 0RQ

23 Harley Street

Marylebone, London, W1G 9QN

The Guthrie Private Clinic

Kings College Hospital Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS