Macular degeneration is a painless eye condition that causes you gradually to lose your central vision (the ability to see what is directly in front of you). You use your central vision during activities such as reading, writing and driving.
Macular degeneration doesn't affect your peripheral vision (your outer / side vision), so the condition won't make you completely blind.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually due to raised pressure in the eye resulting in reduced peripheral vision. It usually affects 2% of the population over the age of 40 years and has an increased risk (4x) in people of African-Caribbean origin or those with diabetes. There are also cases in younger adults and children although these are much less common.
There are 4 main types of Glaucoma:
Chronic (slow onset) Glaucoma – this is the most common form of Glaucoma and is where either too much fluid (aqueous) is produced or the drainage of the fluid is impaired resulting in increased pressure and loss of nerve fibres and peripheral field loss.
Acute (sudden onset) Glaucoma – This is where there is a sudden reduction / blockage of the fluid drainage from the eye resulting in a very high pressure and severe red painful eye needing immediate treatment to stop permanent damage to the eye.
Secondary Glaucoma – This is Glaucoma caused by another disease such as Diabetes affecting the eye pressure.
Developmental Glaucoma – This is Glaucoma resulting from a malformation of the eye as it developed and is seen in babies.
The NHS will pay for eye examinations of people over 40 years of age with a parent, child or sibling with Glaucoma. The tests which will be performed include examination of the optic nerve head using an Ophthalmoscope or Slit lamp microscope, a measurement of the eye’s pressure, and assessment of the peripheral visual fields.