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Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Glaucoma?|Symptoms of Glaucoma|Causes of Glaucoma|Risk Factors of Glaucoma|Diagnosis of Glaucoma|Treatment for Glaucoma|Lifestyle Changes for Glaucoma
Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Glaucoma?

Everyone wants a healthy vision. However, with the changing atmosphere, our own evolution, and the increasing amount of time we are spending on our screens, a healthy vision is mostly available via surgeries or spectacles. However, we need to know all about the eyes and the conditions that can affect them, so that we can do everything in our power to prevent those from happening. Glaucoma is one such issue.

The common types of glaucoma include:

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma – usually painless with no early symptoms
  • Angle-closure or closed-angle glaucoma – usually an acute attack causing a medical emergency

To put it in simple terms, this is a condition that affects the eye’s optic nerve. An optic nerve is composed of a million nerve fibres and connects the eye to the brain. It is a part of the retina, the one that is responsible for your sight. This is often a genetic issue and is caused due to the buildup of pressure in the eye, something which can increase with time.

If left untreated, it can lead to complete or partial blindness. One thing to know about this condition is that it needs to be controlled when the vision is present and in the best condition. It is an irreversible condition. Once the vision is lost completely or partially, it cannot be brought back. However, if the pressure is lowered consistently, the remaining vision can be maintained.

Fun fact, glaucoma is also known as ‘sneak thief of the night’. It’s a dark but accurate take on the condition because many times it cannot be diagnosed and thus leads to irreparable damage to the eyesight.

In this article, we will know all about the condition, what are the symptoms and causes, what is the treatment, how can it be prevented, and more.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a very silent disease and comes with no symptoms, especially in the early stages. However, as the condition deteriorates, one may experience a failure in the peripheral vision which tumbles into a tunnel vision and then total loss of vision. This usually happens in the case of Open-angle Glaucoma, Primary Open-angle Glaucoma, and Chronic Open-angle Glaucoma. In the case of an Acute Closed or Narrow-angle Glaucoma, people may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Throbbing eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing a halo around lights
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Nausea
  • Diluted pupil

The symptoms may appear gradually in case of open-angle glaucoma and many people may not have any symptoms in the early stages.

However, closed-angle glaucoma often presents with symptoms that develop suddenly and is usually accompanied by difficulty in vision. Acute closed glaucoma needs surgical procedure because it is extremely quick. In fact, if it is not treated within 12 hours of experiencing the symptoms, it can even lead to complete blindness.

Glaucoma can also occur in infants. Thankfully, there are symptoms to this type of glaucoma which is also known as congenital glaucoma in the infants. Following are the symptoms:

  • Constant and consistent eye rubbing which signifies irritation
  • Keeping eyes closed all the time
  • Being sensitive to light
  • A larger cornea

Overall, if bright lights bother you way too much than it should and you have constant pain around the eyes and adjoined nerves and area, it’s good to get yourself checked.

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Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused due to a high buildup of eye fluid, causing immense pressure on the optic nerve. It plugs the canal that drains out this fluid. While blockage of the canal can be one of the causes, the other maybe an excess secretion of the fluid, so much so that the canal is incapable of flushing it at the right rate. Thus, it accumulates and creates pressure on the nerves.

No research has yet been able to pinpoint the exact reason why this pressure builds up.

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Risk Factors of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a genetic disorder. Other than that, people with low blood flow may suffer from it. People who are over the age of 40 are more at risk, but infants and young adults too can suffer from it. The following are some people who are more at risk of contracting the condition:

  • Diabetic patients
  • People over the age of 40
  • African Americans, Irish, Hispanic, and Japanese people
  • People with a genetic history of the condition
  • People with a weak vision
  • People with thin corneas
  • People who have got their eyes injured
  • Nearsighted or farsighted people

Diagnosis of Glaucoma

There are two ways in which the doctor can diagnose you for glaucoma:

Gonioscopy

This is a test to inspect the drainage angle.

Tonometry

This is a test which measures the eye pressure.

Visual field test

This is to check and assess areas of vision loss.

Imaging test

A dilated eye examination is conducted to test the damage.

Pachymetry

This is a way to measure the corneal thickness.

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Treatment for Glaucoma

Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, the treatment needs to be started as soon as possible. Most of the time, the patient is recommended eye drops and oral medicines. Laser treatment is also known to be beneficial to stop the damage where it is as it helps to retain the remaining eyesight.

Surgery is considered the last option, where medication and laser do not work. Drainage tubes can also be used wherein the surgeons insert tubes to drain the excess fluid that is building the pressure on the eye nerve. Another way is Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery or MIGS which is less risky and involves less post-surgery care. It is done in combination with cataract surgery.

You can decide which treatment option is best for you after a thorough discussion with your doctor. The course of treatment will be decided on your condition.

Lifestyle Changes for Glaucoma

There are a few lifestyle changes that can help you catch glaucoma on time and even prevent loss of sight. Just be cautious and do the following:

  • Make sure you visit your doctor periodically for eye exams.
  • Do mild exercise every day, even if it means a little jogging.
  • Use protective eyewear when out in the sun or even when using equipment such as laptops and smartphones.
  • Be aware of your family history and figure out the genetic defects, if any.

Overall, just know about your body and keep a lookout for anything out of the ordinary. Also, never miss your doctor’s appointment. Glaucoma is a silent predator. Regular visits can help in detecting it in the early stages.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Nikita Updated 03/09/2021
Medically reviewed by डॉ. स्नेहल सिंह