Glaucoma is an important cause of blindness worldwide. It is characterised by a progressive build-up of pressure inside the eyeball which causes gradual but permanent eye damage. The eye ball is filled with fluid called aqueous humour which slowly circulates; carrying nutrients to various working parts of the eye and finally leaves through various channels into the blood.

This fluid keeps the eye distended and controls the pressure of the eye (Intra-ocular pressure). If there is accumulation of fluid inside the eye (due to several reasons), the pressure in the eyes begins to rise and the sensitive inner surface of the eye slowly squeezes, cutting off its blood supply.

Glaucoma is a chronic asymptomatic disease for most cases. It is no longer associated with only the old. Children are increasingly being diagnosed with glaucoma either due to its genetic transmission or congenital abnormality.

Unfortunately, glaucoma has no cure presently and vision lost due to glaucoma cannot be reversed. Early diagnosis, prompt intervention and adherence to medication and follow up is key to maintaining the vision left as that remains the aim of glaucoma treatment.


The challenge of management of glaucoma is the time patients report to the eye clinic. It has been revealed from several studies that most people suffering from glaucoma in Africa report late, when remarkable vision has been lost.

The first symptom in most cases observed is usually reduced vision after which some other symptoms may set in. In some cases, especially closed angle glaucoma cases, some symptoms usually experienced are pains/heaviness of the eyes, reduced vision, tearing, floaters or flashes of light.


Treatment of glaucoma is aimed primarily at arresting or halting the progression of glaucomatous damage, thereby maintaining the vision that is left by controlling the intra-ocular pressure which has been found to be the main modifiable risk factor of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is treated medically and/or surgically. Medical therapy is usually mostly eye drops taken all through one’s lifetime. It is also recommended that the rest of the family of a glaucoma patient be examined by an eye specialist since it is highly genetically transmitted. Any unnecessary delay can make the preservation of useful vision very difficult.

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