What is Glaucoma?
The optic nerve needs to be in a proper condition for good vision and Glaucoma is a serious condition that directly affects and damages the same. The most common cause of such damage is excessive pressure on the eyes. According to several pieces of research, Glaucoma is presently one of the leading causes that result in blindness, especially in older adults above 60 years of age.
The biggest problem with Glaucoma is that it often develops silently and you won’t be able to take proper precautions. The fact that the effect is gradual means you will only be able to realize the problem when it has already developed to an advanced stage. Since glaucoma causes an irreparable loss of vision, it is better to be careful while you still can.
The best way is to get regular check-ups done. Every visit to the Ophthalmologist must include thorough eye pressure measurements. As a result, diagnosis becomes easier from the early stages if there seems to be a problem. The silver lining to the entire story is that if Glaucoma can be detected at the initial stage, severe effects such as vision loss can be prevented or at least delayed. A person can completely get rid of the problem through proper procedures and surgeries.
What are the types of Glaucoma?
- Open-angle Glaucoma
- Angle-closure Glaucoma
- Normal-tension Glaucoma
- Congenital Glaucoma
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
An in-depth look into Glaucoma symptoms
There are several stages of Glaucoma that are often used as alternative names for the disease too. Before getting into the symptoms, you must get an idea of the fact that they differ based on the stage and type of Glaucoma that is detected in your case. The severity of symptoms also varies depending on similar conditions. In this section, we will learn about Glaucoma symptoms based on their stage and type. So, let’s begin-
- Blinding and patchy spots in the central or peripheral vision that may appear in both eyes at frequent intervals
- Tunnel vision (during the advanced stage)
Narrow-angle or Acute-Closed Glaucoma
This type is often very painful and sometimes reported as the worst version of Glaucoma. If someone is experiencing any of the below-mentioned, you should take the person immediately to an ophthalmologist for emergency treatment. If you ignore the conditions even for a day, it might lead to severe conditions and even permanent vision loss.
The following are the symptoms-
- Painful throbbing in the eyes
- Vomiting and nausea
- Eye redness
- Dilated pupil
- Headaches (can happen on just one side of the head as that of the affected eye)
- Visions of light rings or halos
- Foggy or blurry vision
The term ‘congenital’ makes it clear already that the below-mentioned Glaucoma symptoms are associated with infants and children during their very early years.
- Tearing, eyelid spasms and light-sensitivity
- A habit of rubbing the eyes, keeping eyes closed for the maximum part of the day and squinting
- Larger than the normal cornea and a visible cloudy layer in that part
Secondary and other types of Glaucoma
The secondary or other types of Glaucoma symptoms depend on the causes of eye pressure. It can be anything that leads to weird visions such as halos and light rings. The following are a few common symptoms of secondary Glaucoma.
- Inflammation (also known as uveitis)
- Photophobia or light-sensitivity
- Eye injuries such as corneal edema, retinal detachment, and bleeding
As mentioned earlier, Glaucoma is a major effect of excessive eye-pressure which eventually causes damage in the optical nerve. As a result, there is a development of blinding spots that occur in your visual field. The most common reason for eye-pressure to increase is excessive fluid build-up in the eyes also known as ‘aqueous humor’. This fluid does not flow down in the form of tears but spreads inside the eye.
It is normal if there is a limited fluid build-up that will eventually flow down through the trabecular tissue at the intersection point of the cornea and iris. However, when there is the excess fluid build-up that does not drain out properly, it becomes a problem and triggers the rise of pressure in your eyes. In some cases, Glaucoma causes also include a family history of the disease.
Basic risk factors
While you must have the basic knowledge about the major symptoms and signs of Glaucoma, it is also important to know that the chronic version of the disease may develop without such signs. So, it is also important that you are aware of the risk factors. They are:
- High intraocular or internal pressure in the eyes
- Using eye drops for a long time
- Age over 60 years
- History of eye surgery or injury
- Being black, Hispanic or Asian
- Genetic history of Glaucoma
- Being extremely farsighted or nearsighted
- Underlying conditions such as diabetes, anemia, high blood pressure and cardiac issues
- Position of the cornea
Diagnosis of Glaucoma
The diagnosis of glaucoma means that your ophthalmologist will examine and analyze medical history. The variety of tests to diagnose glaucoma include:
- Damage test of the dilated eye and optic nerve
- Visual field examination
Treatment for Glaucoma
Glaucoma can be treated in the following ways:
- Alpha-adrenergic agonists
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
- Rho-kinase inhibitors
- Cholinergic or Miotic agents
Your doctor may also prescribe a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, an oral medication, if your eye pressure can not be broughr down by eyedrops alone at the desired level.
- Laser surgery procedure can slightly increase the flow of the fluid from the eye in open-angle glaucoma or can stop fluid blockage in angle-closure glaucoma. Laser surgery includes:
- Trabeculoplasty involves the opening of the drainage area. A tiny hole is made in the iris which allows the fluid flow more freely.
- Cyclophotocoagulation involves treatment of the middle layer of the eye to reduce fluid production.
- Microsurgery or trabeculectomy. In this procedure, the doctor creates a new channel to drain the fluid which eases eye pressure.
- Laser therapy
- MIGS (Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery)
- Drainage tubes
- Filtering Surgery
So, Glaucoma is a severe condition that requires awareness and immediate attention. You must keep the risks and symptoms in mind and act responsibly by seeking proper treatment for the disease.