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What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused when pressure builds up inside the eye, damaging the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. If it’s not treated in time, it can cause irreversible blindness.

Dr Paul Nyaluke examines a person's eyes.

It’s thought that 4.5 million people across the globe are blind because of glaucoma, making it the third highest cause of blindness worldwide.

The condition can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms don’t appear straight away – instead, they develop slowly over many years. This means many patients only seek treatment when they notice they’re losing their sight, when significant damage has already occurred.

Glaucoma is a group of conditions caused by normal fluid in the eye that hasn’t drained properly. This creates pressure that damages the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain, resulting in sight loss. Although it’s not clear exactly why this happens, factors such as age, family history, racial background and other medical conditions such as diabetes and short-sightedness can increase the risk. It can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in adults.

There are different types of glaucoma, and treatment will depend on the type a patient has. Glaucoma can’t be cured, and vision that has already been lost cannot be restored. But further sight loss can be prevented via medication or surgery. Each glaucoma patient requires lifelong management for best results.

8 per cent
of blindness across the world is caused by glaucoma

How is glaucoma treated?

Eye drops

The most common type of glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops that reduce the pressure in the eye. This treatment will need to be continued throughout the person’s life.

Surgery

Laser treatment or surgery can correct the problem that initially caused the fluid build-up. Laser treatment is fairly straightforward and usually takes about 15 minutes.

What we’re doing

Sightsavers works to treat and prevent eye conditions including glaucoma in the countries where we work.

Yet the challenge in most African countries is that patients often don’t seek treatment for glaucoma until it is too late to save their sight. This is why we are working with partners in African countries to introduce pilot programmes to prevent and treat glaucoma.

Our aim is to make sure glaucoma diagnosis and treatment are incorporated into existing local eye health services, to ensure patients can be treated as soon as possible and their sight saved.

About Sightsavers

Our work focuses on preventing and treating avoidable blindness, fighting disease and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

What we do

You can help save someone’s sight

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Could pay for a life-changing adult cataract operation.

Could pay for a cataract operation for a child.

Could pay for two child cataract operations.

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Could pay for a sight-saving cataract operation for an adult.

Could pay towards a cataract operation for a child.

Could pay for a cataract operation for a child.

$
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is $3
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over $15,000

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