Ever wonder why Bono always wears dark glasses, even indoors ? Did you think it was all part of the rockstar image ? Well turns out that Bono has suffered from glaucoma for the past twenty years and needs his eyewear to reduce sensitvity to light. It is that estimated half a million people in the UK are living with the condition undiagnosed – and it affects around 65 million people worldwide. Bono isn’t the only well-known glaucoma sufferer, with Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli and astronaut John Glenn all diagnosed with it.
Carmel @ C Murray Optician, 13 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15 gives an insight into the condition:
“Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions in which the optic nerve suffers damage at the back of the eye causing loss of field of vision. This damage is caused by increased pressure within the eye which may be caused by insufficient fluid draining out of the eye or weakness in the optic nerve structure.”
There are four main types of glaucoma:
“Because the early stages of glaucoma do not cause symptoms, the best way to detect it early is to have regular eye examinations” advises Carmel. “This is really important if a close relative suffers from the condition as glaucoma tends to run in families. When a patient is having a routine eye examination, I will check their eye pressure, test their field of vision and carefully examine the optic nerve in each eye by indirect ophthalmoscopy using the slit lamp and Volk lens. These are all effective in detecting glaucoma. “
If the results are clear I arrange to review the patient annually. If I suspect the patient has glaucoma I refer the patient directly to the Glaucoma Service at the Shankill Wellbeing Centre where they are assessed and may be diagnosed with glaucoma and prescribed eye drops on an on-going basis to reduce their eye pressure and preserve their sight. I would s recommend an annual eye examination for someone with glaucoma in our practice as it is especially important to maximise their clarity of vision with their up to date lens prescription.”
Early detection and treatment of glaucoma usually prevents or slows down any further damage. People with glaucoma can carry on with everyday activities such as reading, watching television and using the computer, without this affecting their glaucoma.