Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Around 2% of the population suffer from this disorder. Unlike cataract, visual loss caused by Glaucoma is not reversible. But fortunately early diagnosis and treatment can prevent visual loss.
WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is a disease in which your optic nerve (nerve that transmits visual information to the brain) is damaged because of changes in the pressure inside your eyes. It may be 2 kinds : Open Angle and Angle Closure (Acute).
WHAT CAUSES IT?
The passages in your eye that normally drain the fluid out of your eyes become clogged. This pent up fluid now raises the pressure in your eye and on the optic nerve causing damage and hence loss of vision. An injury, infection or tumour in or around your eye can also cause the pressure to rise. The following factors put you at risk:
- Having a family history of Glaucoma
- High blood pressure or other diseases of the blood vessels
- Long term steroid use
- Above the age of 40 years
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS
- Heaviness or headache
- Gradual darkening at outer edge of vision
- Appearance of coloured rings around lights
- Pain and redness in eyes
CAN GLAUCOMA EXIST EVEN IF THE PATIENT FEELS HIS VISION IS NORMAL?
Glaucoma affects the peripheral vision first, i.e. the top, sides and bottom areas of vision and finally the central vision is affected. So the patient may feel that his vision is absolutely normal.
WHAT IS OPEN ANGLE GLAUCOMA?
Here the drainage angle is narrow and this can lead to increased intraocular pressure. Sometimes this angle may get closed leading to a sudden high rise in intraocular pressure called acute angle closer Glaucoma, a painful condition. This needs emergency medical treatment followed by laser procedure.
WHAT IS NORMAL TENSION GLAUCOMA?
It is a form of Glaucoma in which optic nerve damage occurs with normal intraocular pressure.
WHAT IS SECONDARY GLAUCOMA?
Secondary Glaucoma can occur due to other disease processes in the eye or due to treatment of other eye conditions
WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING GLAUCOMA?
People above 40 yrs of age
Those with family history of Glaucoma
Those with diabetes, systemic hypertension, thyroid disorders and myopia
HOW IS GLAUCOMA DIAGNOSED?
Usually, Glaucoma is discovered during routine eye examination. The tests used to diagnose and monitor progression of Glaucoma include.
- TONOMETRY: To measure intraocular pressure
- GONIOSCOPY: To view the optic nerve changes
- OPHTHALMOSCOPY: To view the optic nerve changes
- PACHYMETRY: To check the corneal thickness
- PERIMETRY / VISUAL FIELD TEST: To map the field of vision of each eye
- OCT (OPTICAL COHERENCE TOMOGRAPHY): to calculate the retinal nerve fibre layer thickness and loss in early stage of Glaucoma before other changes become evident.
Our centre provides Glaucoma workup package which includes all the above.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE?
Medication: This includes eye drops which have to be used permanently as advised by the doctor. These rather decrease the production of fluid in the eye, or increase the drainage of fluid from the eye. Thus leading to a decrease in intraocular pressure.
Surgery: This is necessary when eye drops can no longer control intraocular pressure.