This year's world glaucoma week reflects the hope that people continue to see the world around us, full of beauty, charm, and adventure. The world is bright, save your sight. Our optician, Steve Clark, reminds us how vital glaucoma checks are.
Glaucoma is a progressive damaging of the optic nerve leading to loss of vision over time. Most cases of glaucoma in the UK occur without symptoms and are only found by opticians in a sight test which is why our service is so important. We frequently identify glaucoma for the first time as older adults, but some people may not know that glaucoma is treatable. Eye drops, laser and sometimes physical surgery can be used as treatment.
A few years ago, a lady called us for a sight test at home. It was her first sight test for years, and when I spoke with her, she described being able to see okay but was having difficulty reading and found herself bumping into things in her flat. She also admitted to seeing things in her flat that weren't there, like animals and small children.
I did all the necessary checks, and sadly, she had advanced glaucoma causing her peripheral sight to deteriorate. Her brain was then cleverly filling in the gaps where her vision didn't work, giving her the images of animals and people. This is called Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) - a common and typical symptom with significant sight loss.
We referred her to her local hospital, where she was diagnosed with normal pressure glaucoma and associated Charles Bonnet Syndrome. She started a treatment of daily eye drops and was put in touch with support charities like Glaucoma UK and Esme's Umbrella.
I saw the same lady a year later for her routine eye test. Although her sight has not returned, the hospital treatment was preserving her sight well, and she was relieved to find that her symptoms were typical for her diagnosis.