Glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of vision”, as it can go unnoticed until it’s too late.It is a leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and the condition deteriorates over time.
It is caused by fluid buildup in the frontal part of the eye. And the increased fluid in turn increases the pressure in the eye, thereby damaging the optic nerve. The damage can lead to permanent blindness within a few years.
Types of Glaucoma:
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: Also called wide angled glaucoma, it is the most common type of Glaucoma. The eye does not drain fluid like it should in this case. As a result of this, pressure in the eye builds up and starts to damage the optic nerve. This type of Glaucoma is painless and doesn’t affect your vision if treated early. Regular eye exams are recommended over the age of 60 to detect the early onset of glaucoma.
Angle Closure Glaucoma or Closed Angle Glaucoma: This type of glaucoma occurs when the iris of the eye is close to the drainage angle and ends up blocking it. When the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure increases, and this is called an acute attack. Angle closure glaucoma can cause blindness, if not treated immediately.
Symptoms of Glaucoma: Usually, most people do not experience any symptoms. Often times the only symptom is the loss of peripheral vision. However, some symptoms indicate a possibility of glaucoma and you shouldn’t ignore them:
- Sudden eye pain, headache or blurred vision.
- Observing halos around lights
- Eye appearing hazy
- Redness in the eye
- Tunnel vision
- Nausea and vomiting
The ophthalmologist will administer eye drops to dilate your pupils before administering a vision test. He will then examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage. Your eye-doctor will also check the fluid pressure in your eyes.
A visual acuity test will determine the clarity of sharpness of your vision. A visual field test might be required to measure peripheral vision. The eye doctor may run a simple corneal thickness test called Pachymetry if you have abnormal IOP (intraocular eye pressure), to help diagnose your case better.
Treatment for Glaucoma:
Medicines: Eye drops or pills are the most common early treatment for glaucoma to reduce intraocular pressure. However, these medicines could have side effects like allergies, redness, and blurred vision; let your doctor know if you have any serious health conditions.
Laser trabeculoplasty: This procedure helps drain out the fluid in the eye. You will have to continue taking glaucoma medicines after this procedure.
Laser Iridotomy: In this procedure a tiny hole is made in the iris to help ease the flow of fluid.
Conventional surgery: This is recommended when laser and eye drops aren’t getting you the desired results. A small piece of tissue is removed from the eye to create a new channel to drain the fluid in the eye. Conventional surgery is 60-80% effective at reducing the eye pressure.
To make sure that you don’t suddenly lose your vision, if you’re above 60 you should have a comprehensive eye checkup exam every year.