What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is caused when extra fluid in the eye increases the pressure in the eye which if undetected can damage the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years of age and whilst the incidence of glaucoma increases with age, it can in fact effect anyone. Blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Glaucoma is painless and causes no vision changes at first. In routine visits to an optometrist when vision is checked for acuity, it is routine that eye examinations include an examination of eye pressure. These regular eye examinations are important to find early signs of damage to optic nerves.
Delayed diagnosis of glaucoma
It has been my experience that sometimes patients have not been advised that there is an increase in their interocular pressure and further tests to determine the health of the optic nerve with visual field tests have not been undertaken.
Optometrists have a duty to explain the benefits of further tests and regular surveillance of interocular pressure. Like most professionals, optometrists should be assisted by their practice to ensure that the patient is aware of their results; the need for further testing and follow up appointments.
Delays of up to two years in detecting increased interocular pressure have resulted in litigation where a patient has been able to establish that the delay in detecting the interocular pressure has caused them to suffer from an advanced stage of glaucoma. To reverse the progression of such glaucoma is difficult as the consequential visual loss is irreversible.
Glaucoma Awareness Week is an opportunity to consider when you were last tested and how often you should be retested in the future to maintain optimum eye health.
If you believe you, or somebody you know has experienced a delayed diagnosis of glaucoma resulting in loss of vision, you should seek expert legal advice. Our team of experienced medical lawyers can help.
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