Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. It can occur at any age but is more common in adults above 40 years of age.
The most common form of glaucoma has no warning signs. The damage is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage.
Vision loss due to glaucoma can't be recovered. So, it's important to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your eye pressure. If glaucoma is recognized early, further vision loss can be slowed or prevented.
Elevated eye pressure is due to a build-up of a fluid that flows throughout your eye. This fluid normally drains into the front of the eye (anterior chamber) through tissue at the angle where the iris and cornea meet. When fluid is overproduced or the drainage system doesn't work properly, the fluid can't flow out at its normal rate and pressure builds up. Glaucoma tends to run in families.
The types of glaucoma include the following:
- Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. This causes pressure in the eye to gradually increase and damage the optic nerve. It happens so slowly that you may lose vision without realizing it.
- Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. As a result, fluid can't circulate through the eye and pressure increases.
- Congenital (childhood) glaucoma: It's possible for infants and children to have glaucoma. It may be present from birth or developed in the first few years of life. The optic nerve damage may be caused by drainage blockages or an underlying medical condition.
The symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type and stage of your 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
You may experience the following episodes with varying severity:
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Redness of eyes
If left untreated, glaucoma will rapidly cause blindness. Even with treatment, about 15 percent of people with glaucoma become blind in at least one eye within 20 years.
Your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a comprehensive eye examination. Several tests may be conducted, including:
- Measuring intraocular pressure (tonometry)
- Testing for optic nerve damage by measuring the number of nerve cells by optic nerve scans
- Checking for areas of vision loss (visual field test)
- Measuring corneal thickness (pachymetry)
- Inspecting the drainage angle (gonioscopy)
- Photographs of your optic nerve for future comparisons
The damage caused by glaucoma can't be reversed. But treatment and regular check-ups can help slow or prevent vision loss. We can ensure that your vision is maintained at the level you come to us with. The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower pressure in your eye. Various treatment methods may be adopted like:
- Eyedrops: These can help decrease eye pressure by improving how fluid drains from your eye or by decreasing the amount of fluid your eye makes.
- Oral medications (only for short durations)
- Other treatment options include laser therapy and various surgical procedures.
- Treating acute angle-closure glaucoma attack: Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. If you're diagnosed with this condition, you'll need urgent treatment to reduce the pressure in your eye. This generally will require both medication and laser or other surgical procedures.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes.