What you should know about glaucoma

Written by: Mr Francesco Stringa
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition which affects the optic nerve and if left untreated, can cause blindness.


In this expert guide to the condition, highly esteemed consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Francesco Stringa details the principal causes and symptoms of glaucoma and explains how effective and timely treatment can be sight-saving.

Women with suspected glaucoma having an eye exam

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve, which is the wire connecting the eye to the brain. It's one of the major causes of severe visual loss in the world, and one of the main features of glaucoma is that the damage to the nerve is irreversible. That means what is lost, can't be taken back. Therefore, prevention and early diagnosis are very important.



What are the first signs that glaucoma is developing?

Glaucoma is also called the silent thief of sight, because one of the early signs of glaucoma is peripheral vision loss. Tendency of losing the edge of the vision, and this is usually not very noticeable, so people aren't aware of having glaucoma until it's very advanced. Other signs can be:

  • pain around the eye;
  • blurriness, or;
  • seeing haloes around light. 



What are main causes of glaucoma?

The main cause of glaucoma is high pressure in the eye. The pressure inside the eye goes up because the drainage system in the eye isn't functional and this presses on the nerve which sits at the back.


Other important risk factors to keep in mind are general health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.


Family history

Family history can affect the development of glaucoma, for example, if parents or siblings have glaucoma. There's a high risk of developing glaucoma.


Also, age is a factor. It seems glaucoma develops more often in people over 60 years of age.

Glasses prescription

Finally, the strength of your glasses is something to keep in mind because people who are very short, or long-sighted, are at risk of developing glaucoma.  



Does glaucoma come in stages? What are they?

Glaucoma is a progressive condition which means it has a tendency of getting worse over time. The way it does that, is affects the edge of the region - so, the very periphery at the beginning, when it's called 'early stage'. 


Then, progressively towards the centre of the region, through the moderate stage and the more advanced stage. In the advanced stage, only the very central part of the vision is impaired. This is called 'tunnel vision' which is like looking through the keyhole without having any perception of what is around. 



What is the most common treatment for glaucoma? Can glaucoma be cured?

Glaucoma is a irreversible condition, which means what is lost cannot be taken back. So that's why preventing further visual loss and curing early-stage glaucoma is important. There isn't a cure for glaucoma, but there are many treatment options. They're all aimed to reduce the pressure of the eye, to a target pressure which is the safe pressure for your eye. Treatment options include the use of eyedrops, to reduce the pressure, which is the most commonly-used. Laser options for more advanced stages; surgery.  




If you'd like to book an appointment with Mr Stringa, you can do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Francesco Stringa

Mr Francesco Stringa is an award-winning consultant ophthalmic surgeon based in Southampton, who specialises in treatment for glaucoma and cataract. His expertise is focused in glaucoma surgery,  glaucoma laser surgery (selective laser trabeculoplasty and laser iridotomy) and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), as well as, standard and advanced cataract surgery and general ophthalmology. He privately practises at Spire Southampton Hospital, while his NHS base is University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, where he is the Clinical Lead for Eye theatres.

Mr Stringa is a leading name in the UK and Europe for different types of glaucoma treatment. He has performed over 2,000 surgeries to date, and he works continuously to audit and improve his treatment outcomes. His specialisms include conventional glaucoma surgery, such as trabeculectomy and glaucoma drainage devices, along with new techniques in minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. He performs laser surgery for the treatment of both open angle and closed angle glaucoma.

Mr Stringa is involved in the management of the glaucoma service at the Eye Unit in Southampton, providing high quality care for a population of nearly 2 million people, in one of the busiest tertiary referral centres in the UK. He also has spearheaded various quality improvement projects at Southampton General Hospital, including the introduction of new lasers for the treatment of refractory glaucoma and new minimally invasive glaucoma devices

Mr Stringa is also a cataract surgery expert with outcomes that are higher than the national average, undertaking over 4,000 procedures in both NHS and private practice. He offers a wide range of intra-ocular options for different vision requirements and expectations. He prides himself in his good communication skills, where he is able to empathise with patients as well as providing the highest quality of care while keeping in mind their individual needs.

He is highly qualified, with an MBBS from the University of Pavia in Italy and a Scholarship at the prestigious Almo Collegio Borromeo, which is classified as a ´highly qualified Cultural Institute` by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research and is the oldest such institution remaining in operation in Italy. He is a member of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (MRCOphth) and he achieved the Fellowship from the European Board of Ophthalmology in the Subspecialty of Glaucoma (FEBOS-GL). Mr Stringa completed his initial training in ophthalmology at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, subsequently he underwent two fellowships in Nottingham University Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital respectively to further specialise in glaucoma

Mr Stringa is an expert in the evaluation of glaucoma surgery outcomes and is actively involved in the improvement of the glaucoma service at his NHS trust. As a result of this, he is regularly invited to talk on such topics at national and international conferences. Furthermore, he is a mentor and teacher of fellows and trainees, and his clinical research frequently features in highly impacted peer-reviewed journals.

Mr Stringa is member of the UK and EIRE Glaucoma Association (UKEGS), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the European Glaucoma Society (EGS), where is part of the Next Generation Partnership. He has won various awards for his clinical practise and research. He won the Runner Up Research Team prize at the Greater Manchester Clinical Research Awards, the Best Abstract Presentation Award from the UKEGS and the Healthcare Leadership Foundations prize at the NHS Leadership Academy Awards. 

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