Eye Care
Are you at risk of glaucoma? Here’s what it’s all about

Are you at risk of glaucoma? Here’s what it’s all about

Glaucoma refers to a group eye condition that damages the optic nerve. Good vision is dependent on its health. Glaucoma is usually caused by excessive pressure in the eye.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. Glaucoma can happen at any age, but it is more common in seniors.

Glaucoma can be silent, and there are no warning signs for many forms. You may not notice any changes in your vision until you are already experiencing advanced stages of Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is irreversible and can cause vision loss. Regular eye exams are important. These include measuring your eye pressure. This will allow you to be diagnosed early on and be treated accordingly. Vision loss can be prevented or slowed if glaucoma symptoms are caught early. You will need treatment for the rest of your life if you have Glaucoma.

Signs

Glaucoma symptoms can vary depending on your stage and type. Here are some examples:

Glaucoma with open-angle lens

  • You may have patches of blindness in one eye (peripheral or central vision) and the other.
  • Advanced stages of tunnel vision

Acute angle-closure Glaucoma

  • Grave headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

Glaucoma can lead to blindness if it is not treated. About 15% of patients with Glaucoma will eventually go blind, even if they receive treatment.

When should you see a doctor?

If you have symptoms such as blurred vision, severe headaches, eye pain, or eye discomfort, immediately visit an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) or the emergency room.

Causes

Glaucoma results from damage to the optic nerve. Blind spots in your vision field develop as the optic nerve slowly deteriorates. This nerve damage is often caused by increased pressure in your eye. Doctors don’t know why.

A buildup of fluid (aqueous humour) in your eye can cause elevated eye pressure. The trabecular meshwork is the tissue that drains the internal fluid from the area where the cornea and iris meet. Fluid can become too concentrated, or the drainage system fails to function properly, and the fluid cannot flow at the normal rate. Eye pressure will rise.

Glaucoma is a common condition in families. Scientists have found genes linked to optic nerve damage and high eye pressure in some individuals.

There are several types of Glaucoma:

Glaucoma with open-angle lens

The most common form is open-angle Glaucoma. Although the drainage angle between the cornea and the iris is still open, the trabecular meshwork has been partially blocked. The pressure in the eye gradually increases as a result. This causes damage to the optic nerve. This pressure can cause vision loss so slowly you might not even notice it.

Angle-closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure Glaucoma (also known as closed-angle Glaucoma) occurs when the iris bulges inward to reduce or block the drainage angle created by the cornea and the iris. Fluid can’t circulate the eye, and pressure rises. People with narrow drainage angles are at greater risk for angle-closure Glaucoma.

Angle-closure Glaucoma can occur quickly (acute angle-closure) or slowly (chronic angle-closure). Acute angle-closure is a medical emergency.

Normal-tension Glaucoma

Normal-tension Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve even though your eye pressure remains within normal limits. This is a mystery. One possibility is that you have a sensitive optic neuro or less blood flowing to it. Atherosclerosis, the accumulation of plaque (fatty deposits) in the arteries or other conditions that affect circulation, could cause a reduced blood flow.

Glaucoma in children

Glaucoma can be present in infants and young children. Glaucoma can develop at any age, but it is most common in children and infants. Drainage blockages or other medical conditions may cause optic nerve damage.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

Pigmentary Glaucoma is a condition where pigment granules derived from the iris can build up drainage channels. This can slow down or block fluid flow to your eyes. Jogging, for example, can cause intermittent pressure elevations by allowing pigment granules to build upon the trabecular meshwork.

Risk factors

These risk factors are important because chronic forms of Glaucoma may cause vision loss before symptoms or signs become apparent.

  • High intraocular pressure (internal eye pressure)
  • Being over age 60
  • Being Hispanic, Asian, or black
  • Glaucoma in your family history
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high pressure, and sickle cell anaemia
  • A thin cornea in the middle
  • Extremely nearsighted or farsighted
  • A history of an eye injury or other types of eye surgery
  • Corticosteroid medication, particularly eyedrops, should not be taken for long periods.

Prevention

These self-care tips can help you identify Glaucoma early, which can be important for preventing or slowing down vision loss.

  • Have regular comprehensive eye examinations. This will help to detect Glaucoma early before it causes serious damage. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that comprehensive eye exams be done every five to ten years for those under 40; every two to four years for those between 40 and 54; every one-to-three years for those aged 55 to 64; and every one year to two years for anyone over 65. You will need to be screened more often if you are at high risk for Glaucoma. Talk to your doctor about the best screening schedule.
  • Get to know your family’s eye health history. Glaucoma is a common condition in families. You may require more frequent screening if you are at higher risk.
  • Safe exercise. Moderate, regular exercise can help reduce Glaucoma and eye pressure. Discuss with your doctor the best exercise program.
  • Use prescribed eye drops as directed. Glaucoma eye drops may reduce your risk of developing Glaucoma. Eyedrops must be taken regularly by your doctor, even if there are no symptoms.
  • Use eye protection. Glaucoma can result from serious eye injuries. Eye protection is required when you use power tools or play high-speed racket sport in enclosed courts.

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