GLAUCOMA is a name we hear a lot when it comes to thinking about eye health concerns and it is the number one cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand. So what is it? Glaucoma occurs when pressure within the eye increases and causes damage to the the optic nerve at the back of the eye. This nerve is responsible for connecting the eye to the brain – transmitting the message of what the eyes see and how they see it, for the brain to interpret. When the Optic nerve is damaged the nerve fibres slowly die, which affects the peripheral or side vision first. Therefore Glaucoma is the “Sneaky Thief” as it is a slow progressive condition, where the visual loss goes relatively undetected until the damage is quite advanced and the damage is permanent.
A degree of pressure within the eye is required to maintain healthy functioning eyes. But just like high blood pressure can cause havoc on the body, high ocular pressure can cause irreversible damage to the delicate eye tissue and the optic nerve.
Early detection of Glaucoma is the best prevention. Therefore it is recommended that from the age of 40 years, that a Glaucoma check be part of your regular eye exam, to ensure not only your visual needs are taken care of but also your eye health is kept in peak condition.