It is a group of eye conditions that sometimes lead to the damage of the optic nerve. This nerve plays a crucial role in transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. In most cases, damage to the optic nerve is primarily caused due to increased pressure in the eye, known as Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Glaucoma has been called the "silent thief of sight" because the loss of vision often occurs gradually over a long period, and symptoms only occur when the disease is quite advanced. Worldwide, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness after cataracts
Mainly, there are four types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle glaucoma
- Angle-closure (acute) glaucoma
- Congenital glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms depend on the type of glaucoma one has:
- Most people have no symptoms
- Once vision loss occurs, the damage is already severe
- There is a slow loss of side (peripheral) vision (also called tunnel vision)
- Advanced glaucoma can lead to blindness
- Symptoms may come and go at first, or steadily become worse
- Sudden, severe pain in one eye
- Decreased or cloudy vision, often called "steamy" vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rainbow-like halos around lights
- Red eye
- Eye feels swollen
- Symptoms are generally noticed when the child is a few months old
- Cloudiness of the front of the eye
- Enlargement of one eye or both eyes
- Red eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma and its cause is not known. This type of glaucoma generally runs in families.
- Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency. This is completely different from open-angle and slowly damages vision. Its causes are dilating eye drops and certain medications.
- Congenital glaucoma is generally found in babies and caused by abnormal eye development.
- Secondary glaucoma is caused by eye diseases such as uveitis, systemic diseases, and trauma.
The best treatment of glaucoma is to keep eye pressure near normal range which stops further damage. Doctors suggest eye drops, laser or surgery.
- Laser Surgery is found to be effective in treating some types of glaucoma. In open angle variety, trabeculoplasty is done where the drainage angles are treated by laser to increase the outflow of aqueous fluid and lower the eye pressure. In narrow angle glaucoma, a hole is made in the iris - peripheral iridotomy, to restore the flow of aqueous fluid to drainage angles.
- The surgery used for treating glaucoma is called microscopic filtering surgery – trabeculectomy. During the surgery, a small drainage channel is created for the exit of fluid which helps in lowering the eye pressure. It is done under local anaesthesia and the patient needs to be in the hospital for a couple of hours only.
- We at Max Eye Care, advise all our patients to maintain the glaucoma file comprising of periodic check-ups, as the future treatment depends on closely monitoring the changes occurring in your eye. The key to prevent blindness happening due to glaucoma is regular treatment and follow-up.