Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Glaucoma Awareness Month

From Kristine Jensen, owner of Eyes of Howick

With over 100,000 Kiwis having glaucoma, over half of them don’t realise they have it, says Kristine Jensen, owner of Eyes of Howick.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand. It always amazes me how much vision a patient has to lose before they notice any issue.
What is glaucoma?

Eye disease leading to optic nerve damage, glaucoma usually leads to a slow, painless and irreversible loss of peripheral vision. If untreated, only a small island of central vision may remain. In end-stage glaucoma, complete blindness may occur.

Glaucoma sub-types:

› Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: The most common glaucoma in New Zealand, POAG is related to elevated eye pressure damaging the optic nerve. Risk factors include a family history, increasing age, high myopia or short sight.

› Normal Tension Glaucoma: A variant of POAG in the fact that the optic nerve becomes damaged but the eye pressure appears within the normal range. It is postulated that NTG involves a mechanism of poor blood perfusion to the optic nerve with risks including Raynauds disease and migraine.

› Angle Closure Glaucoma: Occurring by way of a physical obstruction of the eye’s anterior (pressure) chamber, ACG results in a sudden, severe rise in intraocular pressure. This may lead to a red, painful eye with a dilated pupil and blurred vision. This is an ocular emergency as without eye pressure being normalised the optic nerve may die
within 24 hours.

Some patients may suffer more chronic or intermittent angle closure which may occur without the eye pain, so once again without symptoms, the only way to know if you are
at risk is to have an eye examination to check the anatomy of your anterior chamber. Risk is family history, high hyperopia (long sight) increasing age or being of Asian descent.

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