Discover Eye Care: What is Glaucoma?

The term Glaucoma describes a group of eye disorders which makes it difficult to classify without an in depth examination. In the case of Glaucoma the optic nerve of the eye is damaged, usually by increased intra ocular pressure (IOP), which can lead to serious eye problems as well as blindness.

The optic nerve carries information from the eye to the brain which makes it a very important part in the visual system. Increased IOP is usually caused by blockage of the eye’s drainage system. This can be treated by the use of eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. Early detection is very important!


In most cases there are no symptoms during the early stages and therefore Glaucoma is also known as the “silent thief of sight”. This means that until any vision loss is noticed, Glaucoma can go undetected long enough for irreversible damage to take place.

Symptoms can include:

• Blurry vision
• Intense eye pain
• Vomiting
• Nausea
• Halos around lights
• Visual field loss

Types of Glaucoma:
Glaucoma can be divided into two major categories known as Open-angle Glaucoma and Angle-closure Glaucoma. The different types include:
• Congenital glaucoma
• Primary open-angle glaucoma
• Acute angle-closure glaucoma
• Secondary glaucoma
• Normal-tension glaucoma
• Pigmentary glaucoma
• Chronic angle closure glaucoma
• Neovascular glaucoma
• Pseudoexfoliation glaucoma

How do I test for Glaucoma?
It is very important to have regular comprehensive eye examinations. The IOP can be measured during a routine eye exam by your Optometrist. The retina and optic nerve head can also be assessed during this exam.

More extensive tests also include:
• OCT scan
• Visual field testing
• Gonioscopy
• Scanning laser polarimetry (SLP)
• Confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy

Take home message:
Glaucoma is a complicated “silent killer of vision”. Early detection and treatment are crucial in order to prevent permanent damage and vision loss.

Tel: 021 554 2326

iLink Optometrists, Shop 13, The Emporium, Sandown Rd, Parklands, Cape Town 7441