Glaucoma is a common condition prevalent in over 50’s. In a normal eye, pressure is maintained with a delicate balance between aqueous humor production and absorption.
<h2>What are the symptoms of glaucoma?</h2>
Glaucoma remains a symptom-free condition until advanced. In early stages, blind spots appear in the field of vision which in very advanced cases can progress to constriction of peripheral field of view, ultimately causing loss of all vision.
In some forms of glaucoma, particularly acute glaucoma, the eye can become painful, associated with headaches and even causing sickness vomiting.
<h2>What causes glaucoma?</h2>
With age the drainage channels/ pathway becomes narrower resulting in build up of pressure which can pose damage to optic nerve at the back of the eye. Optic nerve is the connection between your eye and the brain. Under pressure, optic nerve functions begins to deteriorate.
Glaucoma may be divided into categories based on the underlying mechanism.
<em>Open angle glaucoma</em> – is by far the commonest.
<em>Narrow angle glaucoma</em> – usually in very long sighted individuals.
<em>Secondary glaucoma</em> – as a result of iritis, trauma or vascular occlusion of the retina.
<em>Congenital glaucoma</em> – a rare condition usually diagnosed in very early age.
<h2>What is the treatment for glaucoma?</h2>
Treatment depends on the cause. Primary open angle glaucoma is initially treated with eye drops on a permanent basis. Generally, the treatment is very effective, but in a small minority of cases who do not respond to drops, laser (trabeculoplasty) or surgery (trabeculectomy) may be considered.
Closed angle or narrow angle glaucoma is treated with YAG laser thereby using a microscope a bypass channel is created by punching a tiny hole in the peripheral iris. Acute glaucoma often needs intensive medication with injection, tablets and eye drops I the setting of eye casualty.
Other forms of complex glaucoma such as due to iritis or retinal vascular occlusion may be treated with other treatment modalities in addition to those mentioned above. These may include laser to retina (pan retinal photocoagulation), laser to the fluid secreting part of the eye called ciliary body (cyclo diode).
Your ophthalmologist will determine the most suitable form of treatment for you. With prompt treatment and regular monitoring visual loss due to glaucoma is rare now-a-days.
<h2>Can glaucoma be prevented?</h2>
Fortunately, glaucoma screening is now part of normal eye test. These days the condition is diagnosed very early usually before the onset of any optic nerve damage. Treated in time, patients enjoy normal vision throughout their lifetime.