What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the nerve of the eye, resulting in irreversible blindness, often without any symptoms. This damage is often caused by increased pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can occur in anyone at any age; a family history may be present in some. Early diagnosis and careful management are the keys to preventing blindness.
Causes, Types & Risk factors
Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. There are four major types of glaucoma:
- Primary Open-Angle,
- Primary Angle-Closure,
- Secondary, and
- Congenital Glaucoma
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common. Due to degeneration of the eye's drainage system, fluid in the eye cannot exit the eye fast enough and pressure in the eye builds up. Over time, this high pressure damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye. Vision starts to fail, starting from the periphery. Total blindness occurs when the central vision also becomes affected in the advanced stage.
Primary Angle-Closure Glaucoma occurs when there is a sudden blockage to the exit of the fluid from the eye. This causes a quick, severe and painful rise in eye pressure, usually with eye redness, blurring of vision, one-sided headache, nausea and vomiting. It is often mistaken for migraine. Acute angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness rapidly and is a medical emergency. Laser treatment may be indicated for this type of glaucoma.
Congenital Glaucoma is often hereditary and results from the abnormal development of the drainage system of the eye. Early management is vital to prevent blindness.
Secondary Glaucoma can result from many causes, including trauma, mature cataract, steroid medication, inflammatory eye disease and diabetes.
The management of glaucoma depends on careful evaluation, early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Early diagnosis is made possible at our clinic as we have comprehensive and advanced glaucoma imaging technology, including confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy with topographical change analysis, optical coherence tomography and visual field perimetry with glaucoma progression analysis.
The goal of treatment is to reduce the high eye pressure to a level that is safe for the optic nerve. Depending on the type and severity of glaucoma, this is achieved with medications, laser or eye surgery. Our eye doctors are glaucoma specialists with many years of experience treating patients with glaucoma.
Various types of eye medications are available to lower the eye pressure.
Some types of glaucoma may be treated with laser to help reestablish the drainage outflow of the eye. This procedure is painless and can be done very quickly as an outpatient procedure.
Those who are allergic to or cannot be adequately controlled with medications or laser may need glaucoma surgery to establish drainage of the eye fluid. After any treatment, regular follow-up is necessary to ensure that there is no progressive damage over time as one continues to age.