GLAUCOMA

WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal pressure of the eye increases. This can cause the optic nerve to become damaged. The pressure builds up from an excessive production of the fluid in the eye (aqueous humor) that does not drain properly. Glaucoma is an important cause of blindness. It is common and very serious. It accounts for 20% of blindness.

FORMS & SYMPTOMS OF GLAUCOMA

Chronic Glaucoma

This is common in most countries and affects mostly the middle aged and elderly. There is also a strong hereditary factor. It is a very silent disease. No pain or early symptoms to warn you. There is however gradual, progressive vision loss over a period of years. This affects night vision and peripheral (side) vision first. Because one looks straight ahead, many people are unaware that their eyesight is deteriorating. With progression, tunnel vision can develop and eventually complete blindness, if untreated.

Acute Glaucoma

This is uncommon. It effects middle aged and elderly. Mostly woman. People who are long sighted have a greater risk. This usually starts with a sudden attack of painful red eyes & blurred vision, often with headaches, nausea & vomiting. It can be severe enough for the patient to seek emergency treatment.

Congenital Glaucoma

This is a rare form and occurs at birth or in the first stages of life.

Secondary Glaucoma

The high pressure is secondary to some types of disease such as untreated cataracts, an eye injury, or inflammation of the eye ball.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?

The aim of all forms of treatment is to lower the pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve. Treatment will depend on the type of Glaucoma. It may be medicine, surgery or laser.

POINTS TO NOTE

Glaucoma almost always effects both eyes. Not always simultaneously. Once picked up, treatment should be considered for both eyes.

Early diagnosis and treatment is desired to avoid damage to the optic nerve. Loss of vision is permanent. When a definite diagnosis of Glaucoma is made, the patient must go for their regular check-ups, even if the pressure is being controlled by medication. A normal pressure after treatment implies that the disease is controlled, not cured. Have your eye pressure checked regularly after the age of 40, especially if there is a history in the family.