An Introduction to Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a common eye condition usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye. This increases pressure inside the eye and can damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.
By 2050 it is estimated that 3.2 million people in the UK will be affected by glaucoma - which if left undiagnosed untreated, Glaucoma can lead to loss of vision loss. It is in fact one of the leading causes of blindness globally. More worryingly is that only 1.28 million will have been diagnosed and receiving adequate treatment to slow down vision deterioration from a condition that has no cure.
Open Angle Glaucoma Diagram
A Growing Problem
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the eye, characterised by visual field loss and optic nerve damage caused by increased pressure within the eye, generally, as a result of a build-up of fluid (either through overproduction or reduced outflow). POAG is a lifelong condition, but with early detection and appropriate treatment, blindness associated with glaucoma is largely preventable. However, what makes glaucoma even more concerning and a greater risk to those who are diagnosed is that the damage caused by the condition is irreversible and there is no cure.
The chance of developing glaucoma rises with age and with a rapidly growing ageing population, the prevalence of glaucoma is expected to increase in the coming decades, putting further pressure on an already struggling Health and Social care sector.
World Health Organisation
Glaucoma is now the second leading cause of blindness globally, after cataracts. Glaucoma, however, presents perhaps an even greater public health challenge than cataracts: because the blindness it causes is irreversible.
Glaucoma - Facts & Stats
The prevalence of glaucoma worldwide is expected to increase to 111.8 million by 2040
1 in 2 people are living with glaucoma unknowingly.
It is estimated that 11 million people were bilaterally blind due to glaucoma in 2020.
Glaucoma costs the U.S. economy $2.86 billion every year in direct costs and productivity losses.
Glaucoma is now the second leading cause of blindness globally, after cataracts.
There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma
The damage caused by glaucoma usually takes a very long time to be noticed by the patient, hence it is sometimes termed ‘the silent thief of sight'. Worryingly almost 2 million people will not have been diagnosed and will therefore not receive the necessary treatment to slow down the damage caused by glaucoma.
This is why regular eye examinations are essential especially for people over 40. Eye Care Professionals measure intraocular eye pressure (IOP) as an important factor in determining the risk for glaucoma. IOP readings are taken using a tonometer - also known as the 'puff of air' test. Crucially, to get an accurate IOP reading, the thickness of the centre of the cornea (CCT) must be measured.
Pachymetry - Measuring CCT
The process of measuring corneal thickness is pachymetry and it is measured with a pachymeter. It is important because it can mask an accurate reading of eye pressure, causing doctors to treat you for a condition that may not really exist or to treat you unnecessarily when are normal. Actual IOP may be underestimated in patients with thinner CCT, and overestimated in patients with thicker CCT.
Occuity is working on the PM1, the world's only non-contact, handheld pachymeter, to allow both clinicians and technicians to take a corneal centre thickness measurement quickly and easily.
The PM1 will assist in the earlier, faster, and more accurate diagnosis of glaucoma allowing for patients to prevent vision loss through timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.