Glaucoma is an irreversible and progressive eye condition, that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness, and, globally, is the second leading cause of blindness. It is a disease that can be inherited from one or both parents and is often diagnosed later in life. In India alone, all least 12 million people are affected by the disease, over a million of these are blind as a result, while many more are believed to be undiagnosed.
What are the Causes of
There are three primary causes of glaucoma:
- A build-up of fluid causing increased pressure in the eye
- This pressure can then cause damage to the optic nerve.
Recent research also suggests that the disease is linked to early exposure of bacteria, triggering an immune response leading to the increased pressure and other related symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?
Many people with the condition report no unpleasant or noticeable symptoms until it is too late and they experience vision loss. This is why regular eye tests are so important, especially if there is a family history of the disease or if you suffer from diabetes.
There are two types of glaucoma; angle-closure glaucoma, which is more common in Asia than in Europe, and open-angle glaucoma.
Glaucoma is sometimes referred to as the 'sneak thief of vision'. This is because one of the early symptoms is the loss of peripheral or side vision which is often unnoticed until the disease has significantly progressed.
Sometimes, however, the increase in pressure inside the eye does cause symptoms, such as:
- Seeing halos around Lights.
- Redness in the eye
- Narrow vision.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Your optician will place some eye drops into your eyes to dilate your pupils. Your vision will then be thoroughly tested and examined. Your optic nerve will be checked and photographs may be taken to record the progress of the disease. You will also undergo a tonometry test to check your eye pressure and a visual field test to discover the extent of your peripheral, vision. All of these tests are quick and painless.
What is the treatment of Glaucoma?
There are many different treatment methods for the disease, such as:
- Microsurgery to reduce the pressure in the eye by creating a tiny channel to drain the excess fluid.
- Eye drops to reduce the formation of fluid in the eye.
- Laser surgery to improve the flow of fluid in people suffering from open-angle glaucoma.
A combination of any of these methods may also form part of the treatment plan, the goal of which is to prevent loss of vision, as this is irreversible. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, but all treatments are ultimately aimed at lowering the pressure in the eye. Your ophthalmologist will discuss your treatment plan with you.
How can you prevent glaucoma?
It is not possible to prevent glaucoma, but early detection means that there is a good chance of controlling and minimising the effects of the disease.
When is surgery needed for glaucoma?
Surgery is generally considered the best treatment for glaucoma in patients who have developed a cataract that impacts their vision and quality of life and have mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma and acute-angle glaucoma. Cataract surgery is an effective way of reducing eye pressure and has a good success rate. Recent years have seen the development of less invasive surgical methods, known as MIGS procedures.
What aftercare is required
for glaucoma surgery?
After the surgery, antibiotic and steroid eye drops will be prescribed which will need to be taken for a certain amount of time and are necessary to prevent infection and reduce uncomfortable itchiness. Patients need to avoid strenuous activities for two to three weeks after the surgery and to avoid driving until they feel comfortable. It is also important to avoid swimming pools saunas and hot tubs as they are a breeding ground for bacteria. You must try not to rub or scratch your eyes even though it is common for them to feel itchy after the procedure.
What is the prognosis after eye surgery?
Most patients report that their eye pressure has successfully gone down after surgery, leading to improved overall eye health. Thanks to the innovative treatment of the Orbit Eye Hospital, thousands of people have undergone successful eye surgery. To find out if cataract surgery is the right treatment for you, book an appointment today.