Glaucoma: The Importance of Early Treatment

By Mr Vik Sharma (MBBS BSc FRCOphth), Clinical Director, London OC, and a Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Glaucoma Specialist

As a surgeon the most satisfying part of my job is creating a positive outcome for my patients to give them an improved quality of life. As an eye surgeon this is something that I can do daily.

Working as a glaucoma specialist at The Royal Free Hospital and at The London Ophthalmology Centre (LondonOC) I see many cases of acute glaucoma and use the most sophisticated treatments that are available in the world to successfully treat people. I would urge anyone who is concerned about their eyesight to seek help as soon as possible. In recent years there have been advances in glaucoma detection, which means it can be treated earlier than ever and 95 percent of people will not go blind.

One in 50 people will develop Glaucoma over the age of 40. There are few obvious symptoms. However, glaucoma is a serious life changing disease that can threaten your vision and impact your daily life. It can cause permanent damage to your eyes and is the leading cause of blindness.


Glaucoma is caused by too much pressure on your eye, which then squeezes the optical nerve. When there is damage to the optical nerve, it can lead to a degrading of your eyesight, which can eventually cause blindness if not treated correctly. There are subsets of glaucoma that can be present without any extra pressure and can be difficult to detect.

Having glaucoma may be daunting but having a diagnosis means that it can be treated. Even though there is no cure we can offer cutting edge detection and treatments with some of the most advanced glaucoma surgery in London.

Lifestyle and general health

Over 40 years of age I recommend that you have your eyes checked regularly, twice per year. The main triggers that we look for are:

• Poor vision or other eye conditions
• Over the age of 40
• People with thin and sensitive corneas
• Diabetes, high blood pressure or anaemia
• Genetic vulnerability to glaucoma and myopia
• Eye injury


Glaucoma is so dangerous because it rarely has symptoms. However these symptoms can be associated with glaucoma;

• Headaches
• Red eyes
• Tunnel vision
• Dizziness
• Blurry vision
• Halo-rings in the line of sight
• A vision that progressively worsens – initially in the peripheral vision, later centrally
• Pain on and around the eye
• Nausea and vomiting

Case study – writer Michael Rosen

We aim to stop people from getting into an acute glaucoma situation but even if they do we can often help them. Last year I saved the sight of former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, with a new, non-invasive technique for the application of Xen stent into the eye to treat acute glaucoma.

Michael woke from a coma in hospital and the first thing he noticed was that he had a distinct fogginess in his left eye. I knew that if he was not treated in the next week or two, he could go blind. I used the Xen stent combined with a new technique to fit which creates a new pathway for the fluid to drain out of, but without the cuts and stitches, making it quicker and safer giving greater likelihood of a successful outcome for the patient.

The traditional treatment pathway for glaucoma is managed with early diagnosis from an ophthalmologist where patients are usually prescribed drops to reduce the production of fluid and improve drainage. If this does not work a short laser treatment can open the drainage tube to release fluid.

However, the traditional procedure, a trabeculectomy, involves opening the tissue at the front of the eye. A flap is made underneath the eyelid, where a minuscule hole allows the fluid to drain away. The flap is then stitched up and closed. Successful in 80 percent of cases, scar tissue can form over the incision, causing the fluid to build up again. There can also be side-effects include blurred vision and possible loss of vision from a bleed in the eye and a risk of infection.

The revised and enhanced treatment to apply the Xen stent into the eye results in less scar tissue and faster healing times for patients leading to better.

Whatever your situation we have advanced procedures to treat you, but your treatment starts with prevention, and I urge you to have regular eye check-ups. For more information, please visit

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