When the inside of the eye experiences high pressure, it results in an eye disease called glaucoma. As time passes by this increase in pressure disrupts the optic nerve tissue, ultimately causing either blindness or a loss of vision.
There are five major types of glaucoma which include -
1. Congenital Glaucoma
2. Chronic / Open-Angle Glaucoma
3. Acute / Angle-Closure Glaucoma
4. Normal Tension Glaucoma
5. Secondary Glaucoma
Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common among the other varieties of glaucoma.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), glaucoma has occupied the second place in the list of diseases that cause blindness in the world.
The following are the groups of people who are at a higher risk of getting affected with glaucoma -
1. People Over the Age of 60
2. Those with Eye Problems / Traumas
3. Those with a Family & Medical History
4. Usage of Particular Medicines
The natural pressure of the eye is called Intraocular Pressure or IOP. When there is an increase in IOP, the outcome is glaucoma.
But how does IOP increase?
The aqueous humor is a clear, transparent fluid that the back of the eye produces continuously. Once produced, this fluid occupies itself in the front of the eye and then makes an exit from the eye through channels present in the cornea and iris.
If these channels are partially blocked, IOP increases. This increase damages the optic nerve. As the harm done to the optic nerve develops, the person begins losing eyesight.
Either one or more of the following are accountable for an increase in eye pressure -
1. Restricted Eye Drainage
2. Dilating Eye Drops
3. Poor Blood Flow to the Optic Nerve
4. Medications like Corticosteroids
5. Elevated Blood Pressure
The signs and symptoms of glaucoma differ from person-to-person because it largely rests on the type of glaucoma the person has.
Someone with Open-Angle Glaucoma may either experience Tunnel Vision in the advanced stage or Patchy Blind Spots in peripheral or central vision.
On the other hand, a person with Angle-Closure Glaucoma may have Eye Pain, Eye Redness, Blurred Vision, Halos around Lights, Severe Headache or Nausea and Vomiting.
During diagnosis of glaucoma a thorough eye examination is conducted by the ophthalmologist. This is done to notify any signs of deterioration like loss of nerve tissue.
Your ophthalmologist may perform one or more of the following tests and procedures during diagnosis -
1. Detailed Assessment of Medical History
2. Monitoring the Optic Nerve
3. Perimetry Test
4. Tonometry Test
5. Pachymetry Test
Ophthalmologists typically recommend using eye drops to treat glaucoma. If eye drops fail to work or in case a more advanced treatment is essential, medicines that will aid in reducing IOP (usually in the form of eye drops or pills) will be prescribed by the doctor. Either one or a combination of it will be suggested for your treatment.
Reducing IOP to stop the arrival of an additional loss of eyesight is the primary objective while treating glaucoma.
Surgery will be recommended if a blocked or slow channel triggers an increase in IOP. What surgery will do is, it will create a drainage path for the fluid or destroy tissues that are causing the fluid to increase.
But for angle-closure glaucoma there is a completely different treatment that is used. Since it is considered a medical emergency, angle-closure glaucoma will need immediate treatment in order to quickly lessen pressure in the eye.
In these cases, almost always medicines do not work and so, the patient is asked to undergo Laser Peripheral Iridotomy. This laser procedure creates small holes in the iris and thus allows a better movement of the fluid.
Leaving glaucoma untreated will lead to blindness. To avoid this, make sure to try and get it diagnosed as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms.