Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye's optic nerve and gets worse over time. It's often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

This is important to note patients may not have any symptoms inspite of advanced glaucoma.

If you are over the age of 40 and if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an eye doctor every one year. If you have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently.

What are causes of glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually occurs when pressure in your eye increases. This can happen when eye fluid isn't circulating normally in the front part of the eye.

Normally, this fluid, called aqueous humor, flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel becomes blocked, fluid builds up, causing glaucoma. The direct cause of this blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that it can be inherited, meaning it is passed from parents to children.

Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to the eye, severe eye infection, blockage of blood vessels in the eye, inflammatory conditions of the eye, and occasionally eye surgery to correct another condition. Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but it may involve each eye to a different extent.

Glaucoma

Example of glaucoma vision

Glaucoma stages

Different stages of glaucoma

Symptoms of glaucoma.

  • Patients may not have any symptoms in early stages.
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Eye that looks hazy
  • Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)

F.A.Qs

Does increased eye pressure mean that I have glaucoma?

Not necessarily. Increased eye pressure means you are at risk for glaucoma, but does not mean you have the disease. A person has glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged. If you have increased eye pressure but no damage to the optic nerve, you do not have glaucoma. However, you are at risk. Follow the advice of your eye care professional.

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people are at higher risk than others. They include:

  • People with a family history of glaucoma.
  • Anyone over age 40 years.
  • People with diabetes.
  • People who use steroids for long period of time.
  • People with physical eye injury.

A comprehensive dilated eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, thinness of the cornea, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy. In some people with certain combinations of these high-risk factors, medicines in the form of eye drops reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by about half.

What can I do to protect my vision?

Studies have shown that the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease. So, if you fall into one of the high-risk groups for the disease, make sure to have your eyes examined through dilated pupils every year by an eye care professional.

If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly.

You also can help protect the vision of family members and friends who may be at high risk for glaucoma-- Everyone over age 40 and people with a family history of the disease. Encourage them to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every year. Remember: Lowering eye pressure in glaucoma's early stages slows progression of the disease and helps save vision.

How is glaucoma detected?

Glaucoma is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Visual field test. This test measures your side (peripheral) vision. It helps your eye care professional tell if you have lost side vision, a sign of glaucoma.
Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
Tonometry. An instrument (right) measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
Pachymetry. A numbing drop is applied to your eye. Your eye care professional uses an ultrasonic wave instrument to measure the thickness of your cornea.

Remember glaucoma is asymptomatic disease and a patient does not have any eye problem until advanced stage. Regular complete eye checkup can prevent blindness.

If you experience any of these symptoms,contact us or visit us for the best treatment.