Glaucoma Treatment in Tasmania
Open angle glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve starts to atrophy.
This leads to loss of visual field and can eventually lead to blindness. Glaucoma has been called the “thief of sight” in that its onset is insidious. It is mainly diagnosed at routine examination. The intraocular pressure is taken and the appearance of the optic nerve is assessed. Optometrists check intraocular pressure as a routine and assess the optic nerve head as part of the routine examination in people over 40 years. In situations where the optic nerve looks suspicious or the intraocular pressure is raised then patients are referred to an ophthalmologist for further assessment. This assessment usually takes the form of visual fields and ocular computerised tomography of the area around the optic nerve. This requires special instrumentation and special expertise.
Glaucoma is a very serious disease which affects about 2% of the population. About half the people with glaucoma in the population are undiagnosed and the incidence of glaucoma in first order relatives of people who already have glaucoma is about 22%.
Treatment at the Tasmanian Eye Clinics consists of a number of different options. The first and most common is the use of topical medication but also increasingly we are using selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) as an alternative to drops. One of our doctors, Dr. Wise, has written on this subject.
Patients diagnosed with glaucoma require a regular review at least every six months which includes Visual Field evaluation, intraocular pressure estimation and optic nerve evaluation with various imaging modalities. Glaucoma is an extremely complex disease which requires expert care and attention to prevent blindness. Surgery is rarely required though it is sometimes essential in situations where the condition is getting worse.