WorldGlaucomaAwarenessWeek: Know about glaucoma and its types

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve

Image source: Google
Image source: Google
  • Increased awareness is needed to encourage the public to undergo routine and complete eye evaluation with stress on glaucoma detection.
  • Glaucoma is a disease where the eye pressure increases and this can cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to gradual loss of vision.
  • Especially those with high risk should go for routine check-ups to avoid irreversible blindness due to glaucoma.

Dr Vidya Chelerkar, Glaucoma consultant at  H.V. Desai Eye Hospital, Pune, said, “Those who are above 40 , or have a family history of Glaucoma , have high plus or minus numbered glasses , those who have taken certain steroid medications or had trauma to the eyes are at risk of developing glaucoma.”

Dr Chelerkar added, “The challenge is that most people don’t have any noticeable signs of glaucoma. The first sign is often a loss of peripheral, or side vision that can go unnoticed until late in the disease. That’s why glaucoma is often called the ‘silent thief of vision.’

She further informed, “It is very important that you should have a complete exam with an eye specialist every 1 to 2 years to detect glaucoma. Occasionally, pressure inside the eye can suddenly rise to severe levels. In these cases, you may have sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights.”

She explained that glaucoma cannot be completely prevented or cured but if diagnosed and treated early, we can control the disease. The best one can do is catch it early and slow its progress.

That’s why it’s important to have eyes checked regularly by an eye care specialist. Most people with glaucoma who follow their treatment plan and have regular eye exams don’t go blind.

Some vital information about glaucoma is as follows:

What causes glaucoma?

Normally, the fluid, called aqueous humor, flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If this mesh-work gets blocked and flow gets affected and pressure of eye increases this causes damage to nerve inside the eye.

Types of glaucoma

There are two main kinds:

Open-angle glaucoma: It’s the most common type. In this because of blocked meshwork pressure increases.

Angle-closure glaucoma: The space through which fluid drains is very narrow and not sufficient in this condition this can cause a sudden build-up of pressure in your eye.

Congenital glaucoma in infants

This usually shows up in new-born or during your baby’s first few years.

Secondary glaucoma

An injury to your eye, an advanced cataract, or inflammation in your eyes, long term use of steroids can develop glaucoma.

What is pre glaucoma?

This is a very early stage of glaucoma, where you do not have definite damage, but you are at risk of developing it in later life. If you have been diagnosed as a glaucoma suspect, it is important that you see your eye care specialist regularly to monitor your condition so that you do not experience any loss of vision.

Is glaucoma hereditary?

Yes, if you have someone in the family affected by glaucoma, you are at a higher risk.

Does glaucoma usually affect one or both eyes?

Usually both eyes, but sometimes only one eye is affected.

Are diabetic at greater risk of glaucoma?

Diabetes might increase the chance of having glaucoma, but not always.

What are the first signs of the disease?

Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common type, patient might not have any symptoms until he or she lose a significant amount of vision.

Acute closed or narrow-angle glaucoma: People often describe this as ‘the worst eye pain of my life.’ Which occurs on and off.

Other symptoms:

  • Severe throbbing eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Headache (on the same side as the affected eye)
  • Blurry or foggy vision
  • Halos around lights,
  • Dilated pupil
  • Nausea and vomiting

This type of Glaucoma is a medical emergency. See a doctor immediately.

Congenital glaucoma in infants

This usually shows up in new-born or during baby’s first few years.

Symptoms include:

  • Tearing, sensitivity to light,
  • A larger cornea and clouding of the normally transparent cornea
  • Habitual rubbing of the eyes, squinting, or keeping the eyes closed much of the time

Are there gender based risk factors for glaucoma?

Men and women both are equally at the risk of developing glaucoma but narrow angle glaucoma is commonly seen in women.

What is the difference between cataract and glaucoma?

A cataract is a change in the lens of the eye; the result is cloudiness as light is prevented from entering the eye properly. Glaucoma is a condition where a build-up of pressure in the eye causes damage to the optic nerve which is the vital link of the eye to the brain which processes visual information.

Both cataracts and glaucoma can be treated surgically but unfortunately the loss of vision caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed whereas it can be reversed with cataract surgery.

Permanent loss of vision from glaucoma, however, can be prevented in most people by early detection and careful follow-up examinations to detect early signs that the eye is being damaged, followed by appropriate, timely intervention

Current options for surgical treatment of glaucoma

Seeing type of glaucoma and condition of patient doctors combine medical and laser therapy and surgical therapy.

In medical therapy prescribed drops are to be used by patients lifelong.

Laser surgery

In this therapy with the help of laser pathway for easy fluid drainage is created e.g. Trabeculoplasty, Iridotomy

Cyclophotocoagulation helps to reduce fluid formation

Few other surgical options are:

  • Drainage tubes. Its tiny tubes that drain fluid through a small device.
  • Filtering surgery. In this Opening is created for fluid drainage
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries. This is a newer set of treatments.

Can glaucoma be treated if any person has cataract?

Yes, sometimes your doctor can combine glaucoma and cataract surgery depending upon the severity of glaucoma and risk factors involved

Can you get glaucoma at any age?

It mostly affects adults over 40, but young adults, children, and even infants can have it.

Also Read :- Engaging in physical activity can help slash glaucoma risk