What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It is often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye, called Intra Ocular Pressure (IOP).
Increased pressure can damage the optic nerve, which transmits image to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve, due to high eye pressure, continues; glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness within few years.
Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this high eye pressure. So it is important to see the eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs.
Why does pressure rise in the eye to cause Glaucoma?
Glaucoma usually occurs when pressure in the eye increases. This can happen when eye fluid isn’t circulating normally in the eye.
This fluid, called aqueous humor, normally flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel becomes blocked, fluid builds up, causing glaucoma. The direct cause of this blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that it can be inherited, meaning it is passed from parents to children.
Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to the eye, severe eye infection, blockage of blood vessels in the eye, inflammatory conditions of the eye, & occasionally eye surgery to correct another condition.
What are the types of Glaucoma?
Open Angle Glaucoma
Also called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common types of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drainage channel.
Also called narrow-angle glaucoma, this is less common but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Drainage may be poor because the angle between the iris & the cornea (where a drainage channel for the eye is located) is too narrow.
Who can suffer from Glaucoma?
- Are above 40 years of age
- Have a family history of Glaucoma
- Have a poor vision
- Use steroid medications
- Suffer from diabetes or hypertension
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?
- Seeing Halos Around Lights: For most people, there are usually few or no symptoms of glaucoma. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of side vision, which can go unnoticed until late in the disease. Occasionally, IOP can rise to severe levels.
In this case:
- Sudden eye pain
- Blurred vision
- The appearance of halos around lights may occur
- Peripheral Vision Loss
- Redness in the Eye
- Blurred Vision
- Shooting pain in eye with Nausea and vomiting
How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
Diagnosis of glaucoma involves the following tests:
- Refraction test
- Slit-lamp Examination
- Tonometry- Measure intraocular pressure
- Gonioscopy- To see whether irido-corneal angle is open or close
- Perimetry- Measure vision field loss
- Pachmetry- Measures the thickness of the cornea
How Glaucoma is treated?
Glaucoma treatment may include:
- Prescription Medication
- Laser Surgery
- 1.These reduce the formation of fluid (aqueous humor) in the eye or increase its outflow. The use of the eye drops keep existing vision intact and avoids further vision loss as vision once lost cannot be regained. Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are currently taking or are allergic to.
- Laser surgery for glaucoma slightly increase the outflow of the fluid from the eye in open-angle glaucoma or eliminates fluid blockage in angle-closure glaucoma. Types of laser surgery for glaucoma include trabeculoplasty and iridotomy to allow the fluid to flow more freely out of the eye.
- In this operation, a new channel is created to drain the fluid, thereby reducing the increased intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma.
Can Glaucoma be prevented?
Glaucoma cannot be prevented. Loss of vision caused by glaucoma is irreversible and cannot be restored. However, successfully lowering the eye pressure can help prevent further visual loss from glaucoma. Most people with glaucoma do not get blind as long as they follow their treatment plan and have regular eye exams.
It is also very important for the family members of a glaucoma patient to undergo regular eye examination because glaucoma can be inherited (meaning it can be passed from patient to children)
Infant or Congenial Glaucoma
Congenital Glaucoma is when you have glaucoma since birth. It is primarily treated with surgery since the cause of the problem is a very distorted drainage system. Symptoms include the following:
- A larger cornea & clouding of the normally transparent cornea
- Habitual rubbing of the eyes, squinting, or keeping the eyes closed most of the time.
- Excessive tearing
- Red eye all the time