What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not a single condition, but describes a group of disorders where the optic nerve can be permanently damaged over time. In general, the pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure) is too high for the health of the eye. Hence treatments aim to reduce the pressure, or improve the blood flow.

The eyesight is usually gradually lost, and as the patient is usually not aware of this until the damage is severe, Glaucoma is also known as “The sneak thief of sight”. So it is important that we look for and diagnose Glaucoma before significant damage occurs.


Regular eye checks are important, and we routinely check for Glaucoma at most visits. If there is a family history of Glaucoma, or if the eye has been injured, it is important these checks start early. For the most common types of Glaucoma, regular eye checks over the age of forty are important.

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

The eye is looked at on a microscope, the intraocular pressure is measured, and the optic disc is examined. Formal testing with Visual Field Tests and OCT (Ocular Coherence Tomography) is performed and checked at intervals. These tests look at the Nerve Fibre Layer in the Retina (or film) and how well it is working. These tests are also used to monitor treatment.


Glaucoma can be treated with Drops or other medication, Laser, or Surgery. In some cases other treatments may be used. It is important that regular checks are performed to ensure that the treatment used continues to be effective in stopping the progression of the damage.

RANZCO Glaucoma information