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Glaucoma is an eye disorder that can affect your eyesight and cause permanent loss of vision. In glaucoma, the pressure within the eye fluid damages the delicate optic nerve. This can develop because the eye pressure is too high or because the optic nerve is weak and vulnerable.
If glaucoma isn't diagnosed quickly and treated effectively, it can cause loss of vision. The London Clinic offers expert glaucoma diagnosis and treatment by world-leading ophthalmic surgeons.
Failing sight can affect your wellbeing, your career, and your quality of life. The London Clinic's ophthalmologists provide the latest evidence-led treatments for glaucoma. Eye drops can control glaucoma for many people. However, if the eye pressure is not controlled with medication, the eye surgeons can operate to relieve the pressure, protect your eyes and safeguard your vision
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a common eye condition in which pressure builds up in the eye and damages the optic nerve. In a normal eye, the eye pressure is balanced to optimise health and function and maintain the eye's shape.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause visual impairment and sight loss by damaging the optic nerve, the pathway connecting the eye with the brain. The types of glaucoma are:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma or POAG: The eye pressure progressively increases and damages the optic nerve. This is the most common type of glaucoma and causes a gradual deterioration in vision.
- Acute angle closure glaucoma: There is a sudden increase in pressure due to blockage of aqueous fluid drainage. This condition causes sudden pain and, if not treated quickly, can quickly and permanently damage eyesight.
- Secondary glaucoma: Eye injuries, medication, and surgery can sometimes cause glaucoma.
- Congenital glaucoma: A rare condition in which glaucoma develops in young babies.
Who can benefit from glaucoma treatment?
Anyone with glaucoma needs prompt, effective treatment to prevent visual loss. However, glaucoma is often a silent problem, with people noticing no symptoms until their vision is permanently damaged.
If you have noticed a visual problem or have not had a recent eye test, the ophthalmologists at The London Clinic can provide expert assessment and care. It’s important to see a specialist if you’ve experienced:
- Visual change: Glaucoma can affect the peripheral vision, cause blind spots, and lead to tunnel vision in advanced disease.
- Pain and redness: In acute angle closure glaucoma, the pressure rises rapidly. The sudden change can make the eye red and painful. It can also make you feel sick and unwell. Your eyesight may be affected; some people see rainbow-coloured halos surrounding white lights.
Glaucoma treatment aims to decrease pressure in your eyes, prevent optic nerve damage, and protect your eyesight. The specialist will calculate a ‘target eye pressure’ to safeguard your vision. The best treatment will depend on the type of glaucoma and your eyes. For primary open-angle glaucoma this could include:
Eye drops: Medicated eye drops can reduce eye pressure by decreasing fluid production or improving fluid drainage. When used regularly, drops are usually able to control glaucoma, without the need for further treatment.
Laser treatment: The eye surgeons can use a laser to treat the eye's trabecular meshwork and help fluid drain away. This reduces eye pressure.
Glaucoma surgery: If your eye pressure is not controlled by medication or laser, surgery can control the condition. The London Clinic offers a range of procedures, including trabeculectomy, which is described below, to reduce the eye pressure and protect your eyes.
If you have acute closed-angle glaucoma, emergency treatment is essential to prevent permanent loss of vision:
- Medication: Prompt administration of medication as eye drops, tablets, or injection can reduce the pressure and restore vision. However, you will need corrective surgery to stop the condition recurring.
- Peripheral iridotomy: Laser surgery in which the surgeon makes a drainage channel in the iris. The hole allows aqueous fluid to flow away and reduces pressure.
The expert ophthalmic surgeons at The London Clinic can provide specialist assessment, investigation, and advice if you are worried about your eyes or vision.
Glaucoma consultation at The London Clinic
Your consultant ophthalmologist will assess and advise you in The London Clinic’s comfortable, well-equipped consulting rooms. They will take a detailed medical history, examine your eyes, evaluate your vision, and ask about the impact your symptoms have on your wellbeing and lifestyle.
The London Clinic's Eye Centre has state-of-the-art facilities for the early diagnosis of glaucoma. Investigations may include:
- Optic nerve examination: The specialist will apply drops to dilate the pupils. They will then carefully inspect the back of your eye. Drops can affect your vision, so a family member or friend should take you home.
- Eye pressure analysis: Your consultant will apply anaesthetic eye drops then measure the pressure using a specialist device or perform the puff of air test.
- Visual field assessment: Computerised testing can identify problems with peripheral vision, blind spots, and field defects.
- Gonioscopy: A technique to measure the angle of aqueous fluid drainage using a mirrored lens.
In consultation with you, they will plan your treatment and explain your options and explain the risks and benefits of any procedures.
Glaucoma surgery at The London Clinic
The London Clinic’s ophthalmic surgeons carry out glaucoma surgery as a day case procedure in our high-tech, ophthalmic operating rooms. They often operate under local anaesthetic, although the clinic also offers general anaesthetic. It takes between 45 and 75 minutes.
Your surgeon will make a small hole in the tissue that lines the sclera, the white of your eyes. This channel allows excess fluid to drain away, reducing the eye pressure.
The drainage channel is permanent. The fluid drains to a reservoir or bleb on the surface of the eye. The bleb is hidden under the upper eyelid.
Recovery from cataract surgery
Following your surgery, The London Clinic’s experienced team will support you as you recover. You will usually be able to go home on the day of the operation. You may be prescribed eye drops to use regularly.
Your surgeon will closely monitor your eye and your pressures. They will check your eye on the day after the operation and will arrange several outpatient appointments to review your progress.
You should take it easy and stay off work for two weeks, longer if you have a physical job. While you're healing, avoid heavy lifting, do not submerge your head in water, and avoid bending so your head is below your waist.
Your surgeon will let you know when it’s safe to get back to normal activities. If you have any problems or worries, contact the eye team at The London Clinic for advice and assessment.
Frequently asked questions
Can I drive with glaucoma?
Many people with glaucoma can drive. However, you are legally required to report conditions that affect your eyesight to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
If you have glaucoma in both eyes, let the DVLA know. They will check your vision to test and assess whether it is safe for you to drive.
Am I at risk of glaucoma?
You should get an assessment if you're worried about your vision because anyone can get glaucoma. However, some people are at increased risk of glaucoma.
- Increased age
- Ethnicity: People of African, Caribbean, and Asian origins are more at risk of glaucoma.
- Family history: Glaucoma can run in some families.
- Medical conditions: Diabetes can increase your risk of developing glaucoma.
- Eyesight problems: People with short-sight or long-sight are more vulnerable to glaucoma.
Can I prevent glaucoma?
We don't know how to stop glaucoma, but regular eye checks can help keep your eyes healthy. Regular testing can allow specialists to diagnose glaucoma early and prevent permanent loss of vision.
Why choose The London Clinic?
The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.
Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.
Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.
The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments. An All-Inclusive Package for this treatment is available from £3,485.
Patients have the option to spread the cost of treatment with Chrysalis Finance.
Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.
General enquiries: 020 7935 4444 Appointments: 020 7616 7693 Self-Pay: 020 3219 3315
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