What Is Glaucoma? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery & Prevention
The definition of glaucoma, in its entirety, is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to your optic nerve, which remains essential for good vision. The frequent cause of this damage remains an abnormally high pressure in your eye. If you are over 60 years of age, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. Glaucoma can affect people at any age, but you will find it more common in older people.
Many types of glaucoma have no symptoms. Because the effect is gradual, you may not notice a change in vision until the condition has progressed to an advanced stage. Because you cannot restore vision loss due to glaucoma, it is critical to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your eye pressure. Therefore, you can get a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. You can slow down or prevent vision loss if glaucoma is h3early. If you have the condition, you will almost certainly require treatment for the rest of your life.
In this article, you will get an insight into the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve in your eye. It worsens over time. It’s frequently associated with an increase in intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is a disease that runs in families. You usually don’t get it until you’re older.
Increased intraocular pressure, also known as glaucoma, can harm your optic nerve, which sends images to your brain. Glaucoma, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years. The majority of people with glaucoma do not experience any early symptoms or pain. Visit your eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before it causes long-term vision loss.
It is impossible to regain lost vision. However, lowering your eye pressure can help you keep your current sight. Most glaucoma patients who adhere to their treatment plan and have regular eye exams can maintain their vision.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma usually does not have any symptoms at first. That is why half of the people with glaucoma are unaware of their condition.
You may gradually lose vision over time, usually beginning with your side (peripheral) vision – particularly the part of your vision closest to your nose. Because it happens so slowly, many people, especially at first, are oblivious that their vision is changing. However, as the disease progresses, you may notice that you can no longer see things off to the side. Glaucoma, if you leave it untreated, can lead to blindness.
Glaucoma signs and symptoms differ depending on the type and stage of your condition. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, you will notice the following symptoms:
- Patchy blind spots in your peripheral (side) or central vision, often in both eyes
- Tunnel vision in its later stages
But, in the case of acute angle-closure glaucoma, you will notice the below signs and symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Halos around lights
- Nausea and vomiting
Get medical care right away if you notice any of these signs or symptoms to prevent your condition from aggravating.
What are the Causes of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma gets caused by damage to the optic nerve. Blind spots appear in your visual field as this nerve deteriorates. This nerve damage is usually associated with increased eye pressure for reasons that doctors do not fully understand.
Elevated eye pressure gets caused by a buildup of a fluid (aqueous humor) that flows inside your eye. Usually, this internal fluid drains through a tissue called the trabecular meshwork at the angle where the iris and cornea meet. When the solution gets overproduced or the drainage system fails, the fluid cannot flow out at its usual rate, causing eye pressure to rise.
Glaucoma is a disease that runs in families. Scientists have discovered genes that have linkage to high eye pressure and optic nerve damage in some people.
Read More in Detail: What are the Causes of Glaucoma?
What Are The Different Types Of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma gets classified into two types. Most, however, can be categorized as either open-angle (chronic) glaucomas or angle-closure (closed-angle) glaucomas, which also include conditions that occur both abruptly (acute) and over a significant period (chronic).
Primary glaucoma is not caused by another eye disease, whereas secondary glaucoma gets caused by another eye disease, trauma, or medication. Glaucomas typically affects both eyes, but the disease can progress faster in one eye than the other.
The different types of glaucoma include:
- Open-angle Glaucoma
When discussing the most common types of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma comes first. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris is unobstructed, but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked. As a result, the pressure in the eye gradually rises. The optic nerve gets damaged as a result of this pressure. It happens so slowly that you may lose sight before you realize there’s a problem.
- Angle-closure Glaucoma
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as closed-angle glaucoma, is caused by the iris bulging forward, narrowing or blocking the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. As a result, fluid is unable to circulate through the eye, and pressure rises. Some people have narrow drainage angles, which puts them at risk of angle-closure glaucoma.
- Normal-tension Glaucoma
Norman-tension glaucoma occurs when you have blind spots in your vision or when your optic nerve gets damaged despite having normal eye pressure. According to some experts, it is a type of open-angle glaucoma.
- Secondary Glaucoma
Secondary glaucoma occurs when another condition, such as cataracts, or diabetes causes additional eye pressure.
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
Pigment granules from your iris accumulate in the drainage channels of your eye in pigmentary glaucoma, slowing or blocking fluid exiting your eye. Jogging, for example, can cause the pigment granules to get stirred up, depositing them on the trabecular meshwork and causing intermittent pressure elevations.
What Are Glaucoma Risk Factors?
When it comes to the health of your eyes, you need to stay vigilant. While you keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of glaucoma, you also need to remain aware of the risk factors for you to be better prepared. Because chronic glaucoma can destroy vision before any signs or symptoms appear, be conscious of the following risk factors:
- Having high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure)
- Being over the age of 60
- Being a black, Asian, or Hispanic person
- Having a glaucoma-related family history
- Having diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or sickle cell anemia
- Having thin-walled corneas in the center
- Being either too nearsighted or farsighted
- Having suffered an eye injury or undergone certain types of eye surgery
- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, particularly eyedrops
Consult an ophthalmologist about your risk of developing glaucoma. People who have more than one of these risk factors are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
What Is The Diagnostic Process Of Glaucoma?
A comprehensive eye examination is the only sure shot way to diagnose glaucoma. A glaucoma screening that only checks eye pressure is insufficient for detecting glaucoma.
Your ophthalmologist will do the following during a glaucoma exam:
- Check your eye pressure (tonometry)
- Examine the drainage angle of your eye.
- Check your optic nerve for damage.
- Examine your peripheral (side) vision.
- Take a photograph of your optic nerve or computer measurement of it
- Determining the thickness of your cornea
You cannot reverse the effects of glaucoma. However, treatment and regular checkups can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if the disease is detected early.
Glaucoma gets treated by lowering your intraocular pressure (intraocular pressure). Your options may include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment, surgery, or a combination of any of these.
Here are the options for Glaucoma treatment:
Glaucoma typically gets managed with eyedrop medication. These eye drops, when used daily, help to lower eye pressure. Some achieve this by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid produced by the eye. Others relieve eye pressure by allowing fluid to flow more freely through the drainage angle.
Side effects are possible with any medication. When certain medications get combined with others, they can cause complications. It is critical to provide your doctor with a list of all medicines you take regularly. If you suspect you are experiencing side effects from glaucoma medication, consult your ophthalmologist.
Never change or discontinue your glaucoma medications without first consulting your ophthalmologist. If you are about to run out of your medicines, consult with your ophthalmologist about having your prescription refilled.
- Laser Surgery
For the treatment of glaucoma, there are two types of laser surgery. They aid in the drainage of aqueous from the eye. These procedures typically get performed in an ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgery center.
- Trabeculoplasty. This procedure intends to treat people who have open-angle glaucoma. To improve the drainage angle, the eye surgeon employs a laser. As a result, fluid drains well, and eye pressure gets reduced.
- Iridotomy. It is for people suffering from angle-closure glaucoma. The ophthalmologist uses a laser to create a tiny hole in the iris. This hole aids in the flow of fluid to the drainage angle.
Operating Room Surgery
Some glaucoma surgeries get performed in an operating room. It opens up a new drainage channel for the aqueous humor to exit the eye.
- Trabeculectomy. It is the stage at which your eye surgeon makes a tiny flap in the sclera. They will also form a filtration bleb, a bubble (similar to a pocket) in the conjunctiva. It is usually hidden beneath the upper eyelid and is not visible. Aqueous humor will be able to drain from the eye and into the bleb through the flap. The fluid in the bleb is absorbed by the tissue around your eye, lowering eye pressure.
- Devices for glaucoma drainage. The ophthalmologist may implant a tiny drainage tube in your eye. The fluid is directed to a collection area by the glaucoma drainage implant (called a reservoir). This reservoir is created beneath the conjunctiva by your eye surgeon. The fluid is then absorbed by blood vessels nearby.
- Cataract removal surgery. In some cases, removing the natural lens of the eye can help to reduce eye pressure. It gets most commonly performed on people who have narrow angles and have high eye pressure, glaucoma symptoms, or both.
You cannot prevent glaucoma. However, if you detect it early, you can reduce your risk of eye damage. These steps may aid in protecting your vision, the control of high eye pressure, and the promotion of eye health.
Examine your eyes regularly. The sooner your doctor detects glaucoma symptoms, the sooner you can begin treatment. Every 3 to 5 years, all adults should have their eyes checked for glaucoma. If you are over the age of 40 and have a family history of the disease, you should have a complete eye exam performed by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. If you have diabetes or are at risk of other eye diseases, you may need to see a doctor more often.
Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help you maintain your health, but it will not keep your glaucoma from worsening. Several vitamins and nutrients, including zinc, copper, selenium, and antioxidant vitamins C, E, and A, are essential for eye health.
Take the medication as directed. Using your eyedrops or other medications exactly as directed can help you get the best results from your treatment. Make sure to use the drops exactly as directed. Otherwise, the damage to your optic nerve may worsen.
Exercise in a safe manner. Regular exercise may help lower eye pressure in people with open-angle glaucoma. Consult your doctor about a suitable exercise program.
Elevate your head while sleeping. Using a wedge pillow that elevates your head by about 20 degrees while you sleep has been shown to reduce intraocular pressure.
Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects people as they age. It occurs when fluid does not drain from the eye, increasing pressure and the risk of optic nerve damage. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms, but it can lead to vision loss. Regular eye exams can aid in the detection of changes that will allow a person to begin treatment, usually with eye drops. This treatment has the potential to slow or stop the progression of the disease.
Remember only to reach out to the most advanced eye-care hospitals and clinics for your glaucoma problem if you have other health issues or even otherwise. The experts at Dada Laser Eye Institute, Best Hospital in Pune, India will guide you through the entire process. The doctors explain the risks involved and share their knowledge about glaucoma before and after your treatment. You can get in touch with the experts and get proper consultation by giving us a call at (+91) 992 299 5549 or visit our website.