What Is Glaucoma
Also known as the silent thief of vision,it is the second most cause of permanent blindness in the world. The main reason for the vision loss is due to the damage that happens in the Optic Nerve, which is the nerve responsible for sending visual information to the brain.
Effects of Glaucoma
Glaucoma Causes loss of vision by gradually damaging the field of vision. The Vision Loss due to is also permanent and irreversible. Hence it is extremely important for all patients above the age of 40 years or those who have a family history of Glaucoma to meet their Eye Doctors for a complete Eye Examination at least once in 2 years.
Most patients suffering from glaucoma DO NOT HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS occasionally some patients observe
Redness in Eye
(Especially in Infants)
Seeing Blurry Rings Around the Lights
Nausea and Vomiting
Causes Of Glaucoma
Like blood pressure, our eyes also have a certain pressure on the inside called the Intraocular Pressure [IOP]. This is due to a fluid called the aqueous humor which is secreted in the eyes. Aqueous humor drains out from the eyes through the Trabecular Meshwork [Sieve-like structures present between the iris diaphragm and the Cornea].
This delicate balance of production and drainage of the aqueous maintains the IOP within normal limits. In certain conditions, the drainage of this aqueous humor is affected, causing the pressure in the eyes to increase. This increase in pressure impacts on the optic nerve thereby causing Glaucoma. There are numerous types of this disease which have been identified, for which different approaches for Glaucoma Treatment have been developed.
Types of Glaucoma
Primary Open-angle Glaucoma
This is one of the most types seen, wherein the drainage of the aqueous humor from the eye is affected due to poor functioning of the trabecular
Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma
In this type of Glaucoma, although the Trabecular Meshwork is functioning well, the angle between the iris and Cornea is extremely narrow.
These are caused by a variety of eye conditions which ultimately result in a rise in the Intraocular Pressure [IOP] leading to the damage of the optic nerve.
Glaucoma can also occur even from birth. This variety is known as Childhood Glaucoma. The disease occurs due to non-development of the drainage channels
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Glaucoma Eye Drops
Medical management of Glaucoma with eye drops is the first line management to lower the pressure in the eyes. Since Glaucoma is a lifelong condition, you will have to rely on these eye drops for lifetime Glaucoma Treatment. The eye drops may differ based on the severity of the condition of your eye. Often our specialists will put you on a combination therapy of drops to bring your IOP to the target eye pressure.
Laser Treatment for Glaucoma
Laser Treatment is a very common form for treating Glaucoma. The type of Glaucoma Laser Surgery is very much dependent on the severity of the disease. Prior to performing Glaucoma Laser Treatment, your eyes will be numbed to make it painless. Laser Surgeries can be
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) : For the treatment of Primary Open-angle Glaucoma
- Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT): For the treatment of Primary Open-angle Glaucoma
- Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) : For the treatment of Narrow Angles and Narrow-angle Glaucoma.
Surgery for Glaucoma is only reserved for advanced Glaucoma or when all medical treatment options have failed. It is the most common surgical process preferred for Glaucoma. Here, it is all about the removal of the eye's drainage tubes so that fluid flows freely through them. Glaucoma Surgery is crucially performed with the help of an Anesthesia to experience hassle-free operation. Another surgical modality is the implantation of Glaucoma Valves inside the eyes to aid in the outward transport of the aqueous humor from the eye, thus lowering the Intra-ocular Pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who gets Glaucoma?
Anyone can get Glaucoma. People who have an immediate family member or a close relative taking treatment for Glaucoma are at greater risk. But Glaucoma can develop even without any positive family history. Glaucoma can also occur in eyes with injury, inflamamation and Cataract. It can also occur in people taking steroid medications for other systemic issues. People with blood pressure who take their BP medications at night need to routinely monitor for a variant of glaucoma called as Normotensive Glaucoma [NTG], where the damage to the optic nerve occurs despite a normal IOP.
How is Glaucoma harmful to vision?
Your optic nerve will be damaged with the pressure formed in the eye. This pressure and the nerve damage stops the images being sent to the brain - leading to your blindness.
Will I go blind from Glaucoma?
Not really if treated well on time. Even though Glaucoma is a very serious disease, it is very much controllable with the modern treatment. So there is nothing to worry about it - Consult your doctor, take tests and start treating it.
How is Glaucoma detected?
Any person above the age of 40 years should get a thorough Eye Check-up from their Eye Doctor atleast once in 2 years for Glaucoma Treatment. Any person who has a family history of glaucoma should get a yearly check-up after the age of 18 years. The basic Eye Checkup at Sri Eye Care looks for suspicious clinical signs of Glaucoma. However the only way to detect the presence of Glaucoma is by doing a visual field assessment [VFA] or perimetry test. This tests the sensitivity of the patient’s visual field and any deviation from the normal age based population is detected.
Can Glaucoma be cured?
Unfortunately the damage that has already occurred to Glaucoma cannot be reversed. However it is important to prevent further progress of the disease before it involves the central vision by the use of eye drops, Laser Treatments or Surgery.
What are the tests for Glaucoma?
They are termed as
- Tonometry - to check the inner eye pressure
- Ophthalmoscopy - to check the size of optic disc and cup
- Perimetry - to check the complete field of vision
- Gonioscopy - to check the eye angle where it meets cornea
- Pachymetry - to check the thickness of cornea
What are different forms of Glaucoma?
Two main forms of Glaucoma are Open-Angle and Angle-Closure Glaucoma. Other types include Secondary Glaucoma, Pigmentary Glaucoma, Traumatic Glaucoma, Neovascular Glaucoma and Uveitic Glaucoma.