What is the Condition?
The second leading cause for blindness, glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the peripheral vision by damaging the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain.
How does it affect the eye?
Glaucoma is more commonly associated with high intraocular pressure, the pressure inside the eye. But glaucoma can also occur in eyes with normal intraocular pressure. Glaucoma causes peripheral vision loss and can lead to legal blindness.
How many types of Glaucoma are there?
There are several types of glaucoma, such as:
- Trauma-Related Glaucoma: As the name suggests, this type of glaucoma occurs when the eye undergoes any trauma/injuries that cause bruising or penetration of the eye.
- Acute Glaucoma: : In this type of glaucoma, the eye pressure increases suddenly; it can happen in the matter of a few hours. Symptoms include severe pain, redness, blurred vision and nausea.
- Normal Tension Glaucoma: This is also known as low tension glaucoma, where the patient’s optic nerve is damaged, even though the intraocular pressure is not too high.
- Childhood Glaucoma: Also known as congenital glaucoma, childhood glaucoma occurs in babies. This happens if the drainage canals of the eyes do not develop completely during the prenatal stage. In some cases, this form of glaucoma is inherited. While microsurgery could fix some of these defects, other cases require medications.
- Open-Angle Glaucoma: The angle is the area in the eye where the iris and the cornea meet. It is a mesh-like drain through which fluid flows. In open-angle glaucoma, the fluid passes through slowly causing a build-up of pressure in the eye. This increased pressure damages the optic nerve. This is a lifelong condition that needs daily medication and possibly surgery.
- Pigmentary Glaucoma: This is a type of open-angle glaucoma that develops more in men, compared to women. Myopic (near-sighted) patients are also more affected. It occurs when the pigment from the iris sheds off and blocks the meshwork, slowing fluid drainage, increasing pressure and damaging the optic nerve.
What are the Symptoms of this Condition?
- Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision, frequently in both eyes.
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stages.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma:
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Eye redness
In Severe Cases, the Following Could Take Place:
- Hazy/blurry vision
- You will see a halo around objects
- You may see flashes of light
- You can lose vision in one of your eyes
What are the risk factors for developing this condition?
- Aged 40 and above
- Having a family history of glaucoma
- Being of African or Hispanic heritage
- High intraocular eye pressure
- Farsightedness or nearsightedness
- Having a history of an eye injury
- Having thin corneas
- Diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation or other health issues that affect the whole body
How is this condition treated?
Medications: Ophthalmologists and optometrists work together to manage the condition in patients. Generally, treatment starts with daily use eye drops. Most of these medications do not cause any problems.
Laser Iridotomy: This method uses a very focused beam of light to create a hole on the outer edge, or rim, of the iris, the colored part of the eye. This opening allows fluid to flow between the anterior chamber, in front of the iris, and the posterior chamber, behind the iris.
Laser Trabeculoplasty: In this method of treatment, your ophthalmologist will make evenly spaced burns in the mesh-like drain. After that, the fluid drains out more easily.
Conventional surgery: This step is usually taken if both medicines and laser surgery have failed to reduce the pressure. In this form of treatment, the ophthalmologist will create a bypass drain channel for your eye(s). If you have glaucoma in both your eyes, the doctor will operate them separately. The surgeries will be around four to six weeks apart.