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What is Glaucoma?


Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve in the eye. Proper functioning of the optic nerve is essential for good eyesight. In most cases, high pressure in the eye can damage this nerve. Not all Glaucoma patients however, have high pressures and may have ‘normal’ pressures on diagnosis. Over 300,000 Australians have Glaucoma.

Untreated Glaucoma may result in loss of visual field and vision. This loss of irreversible and as such, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. Loss of visual field may be difficult to detect by a patient themselves unless it is tested formally. This is why Glaucoma is often called the ‘Sneak-Thief of sight’.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide. 10% of Australians over the age of 80 will develop Glaucoma, although some types can affect younger patients. Patients with first-degree relatives with Glaucoma are at an 8-fold increased risk of developing the disease.

Regular eye exams are the best way to detect Glaucoma. Glaucoma specific testing include:

  • Optic nerve review and measurement

  • Eye Pressure checks

  • Visual Field tests

  • Optic Nerve Imaging: OCT or GDx

Low tension Glaucoma/Normal tension Glaucoma:

  • eye pressures can be normal.

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma:

  • eye pressures are usually elevated.

  • This is the most common form of Glaucoma.

Angle Closure Glaucoma:

  • Can be Acute or Chronic.

  • Occurs when the structures in the eye block the fluid drainage channels in the eye, resulting in raised eye pressures.

  • This may sometimes require Glaucoma Laser or even early surgical intervention.

Secondary Glaucoma:

  • Glaucoma as a result of eye injury, inflammation, bleeding or steroid use.

How common is Glaucoma?
What happens if Glaucoma is not treated?
What are the types of Glaucoma?
How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
How is Glaucoma treated?

Treatment cannot recover vision or visual field that is already lost. Glaucoma is a progressive disease and all treatments are aimed at arresting or slowing down the damage process.

Treatment options include:
Eyedrops: this is the most common form of treatment.
Laser: aimed at reducing pressure. This can be performed in Dr Ferdinand’s rooms and does not require a hospital stay.
Surgery: Trabeculectomy surgery is performed in hospital as a day case. This is usually performed when eyedrops and/or laser have failed to control the eye pressure. This is a bypass procedure that creates a new channel for fluid to leave the eye.

What Glaucoma services are offered by Dr Ferdinands?

Dr Ferdinands offers a comprehensive Glaucoma service, including early detection and treatment, in Geelong. He has the latest Glaucoma testing systems (OCT and Ganglion Cell Analyser) and Glaucoma Laser treatment suite (including YAG and SLT).

For Glaucoma testing, you can book an appointment with Dr Ferdinands at the Geelong Eye Centre on (03) 5221 6555.

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