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Glaucoma: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disorder involving the eyes wherein the vision gets impaired due to increased pressure inside the eyes. This condition is mainly painless and gradually progressive. Unfortunately, management methods cannot reverse the eye damage already done but may prevent further deterioration.

Glaucoma: Incidence, age and sex

Glaucoma is commonly seen in individuals above the age of 60 years. African-American individuals are more susceptible to glaucoma as compared to others. Moreover individuals with diabetes have high risk of developing glaucoma.

Signs and symptoms of glaucoma: Diagnosis

Glaucoma can be of different types like open angle glaucoma, closed angle glaucoma and congenital glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma is the commonest of them all and characterised by progressive but painless loss of vision. Sometimes, complains like seeing halos around lights have also been documented. Vision impairment is characteristic with complains of loss of vision at outer edges of visual field. This kind of vision impairment wherein the central vision remains preserved is called ‘tunnel vision’.

Closed angle glaucoma is less commonly encountered in the general population and is characterised by the blurring of vision, redness and pain in the affected eye. This may be accompanied with nausea and vomiting.

Congenital glaucoma is an occasional occurrence and is present since birth. One or both eyes may be affected which show cloudiness. The affected eye also shows increased sensitivity to light.

The eye must be examined by an eye specialist to confirm the diagnosis. Tonometry is also performed which is a procedure to measure the intraocular pressure. Comprehensive dilated eye examination is mandatory to establish the diagnosis of glaucoma.

Causes and prevention of glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious condition of the eye which results when normal fluid pressure in the eye rises above normal value. Persistent elevated pressure inside the eyes damages the optic nerve which is responsible for transmission of signals between the eyes and brain. Damage of optic nerve subsequently leads to vision impairment.

Several factors can lead to glaucoma like family history, diabetes, eye trauma, advanced cataract and advancing age. Congenital glaucoma is a genetic defect and is present since birth.

It is advisable to get regular eye examinations done after the age of 50 years. Moreover high risk individuals like hypertensives and diabetics are recommended to get their detailed eye examination done every 1 or 2 years. This will help in early detection and subsequent management of glaucoma and thereby prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma: Complications

Glaucoma, if left untreated, may lead to impairment of vision which may progress to complete loss of vision in the advanced stages.

Glaucoma: Treatment

Unfortunately no curative treatment is available for glaucoma. Early detection and management of glaucoma cannot reverse the damage to the eye but helps in preventing further deterioration. The main aim of treatment is to preserve the vision. The treatment modalities include both intraocular medications and surgical interventions. Eye drops can be used which help in lowering the elevated pressure in eyes. Surgical management include either laser trabeculoplasty or conventional surgery. Both theses surgical procedures aim at draining away excess fluid from the eyes and thereby reducing the intraocular pressure. However laser trabeculoplasty is more commonly performed than conventional surgery.