Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerves and can cause blindness. It is said to develop pressure against the inside of the eye. If not detected and treated on time, it could result in a complete loss of vision. Glaucoma develops over time but its symptoms do not appear until the disease has progressed rapidly. That is why it is recommended to see your ophthalmologist regularly so as to avoid any long term side effects of glaucoma.
Causes of Glaucoma
If the circulation of eye fluid in the front part of your eye is not normal, then pressure could develop and cause glaucoma. In a normally functioning eye, the fluid discharges from the mesh-like channel. But if the eye keeps retaining the fluid, then the channel becomes blocked and hence glaucoma occurs. No particular reasons are known for this, but it is assumed that this could be hereditary.
Other reasons for glaucoma could include a severe eye injury, inflammation of the eye, blocked blood vessels in the eye or an eye infection that has gone bad. Glaucoma takes place in both the eyes but the level of progress and the damage is different.
The people who are most at risk of having glaucoma include:
- Those who have a family history
- The ones over 40
- Anyone who has diabetes and poor vision
- African-Americans, Irish, Hispanic, Scandinavian, Russian, Inuit and Japanese
- Steroid medicines such as prednisone can also increase the danger of glaucoma
Types of Glaucoma
There are two types of glaucoma: open-angled and angle-closure glaucoma. Open-angled glaucoma is one where even though the eye seems to be completely normal, the eye fluid does not flow out of the mesh-channel, which is also known as trabecular meshwork. This type of glaucoma is also known as wide-angle glaucoma. This is the most commonly occurring type.
Angle-closure glaucoma is one where the eye is unable to drain the fluid because the angle between cornea and iris is too narrow. This causes a quick and sudden pressure in the eye. It is less common than open-angle glaucoma. It is also known as narrow angle glaucoma or acute or chronic angle-closure glaucoma.
Signs and Symptoms
In most cases glaucoma does not reveal itself in early stages of the disease, which is why there are either very few symptoms or none at all. In other cases the few signs that can be seen include:
- Loss of side vision
- If the pressure increases too much it might cause blurred vision, eye pain, headaches etc
- A person who has glaucoma might start seeing halos around lights
- Vomiting or feelings of nausea
- Redness of the eyes
- In infants, it can result in hazy looking eyes
- Narrowing vision
Treatment for Glaucoma
Though glaucoma cannot be completely healed, it can be controlled if spotted early on. This is done by reducing the pressure on the eyes and decreasing the chances of more damage to the optic nerve. There are three ways glaucoma can be treated: eye drops, laser surgery and microsurgery. All of these options aim at controlling the pressure or intraocular fluid inside the eye.