Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve that connects your eye to the brain is damaged.
Glaucoma can occur due to a fluid buildup in the front of the eye which causes increased pressure. This pressure is called intraocular pressure. If not treated promptly, this condition can lead to vision loss or blindness.
Most glaucoma sufferers do not have early symptoms or feel any pain. Treatment of glaucoma patients is usually done by reducing the eye pressure.
There are several types of glaucoma, namely:
- Open-angle glaucoma — the most common type of glaucoma.
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma — a very rare type of glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is caused by a blocked drainage of the eye that occurs suddenly, causing eye pressure to rise rapidly.
- Secondary glaucoma — a type of glaucoma caused by another eye condition, such as inflammation of the eye.
- Congenital glaucoma — a type of glaucoma caused by genetic factors and occurs in children at a very young age
Glaucoma can occur in people of all ages – most commonly occurring in the age range of 70-80 years.
Causes of Glaucoma
Glaucoma can be caused by several factors. Symptoms of glaucoma largely arise due to fluid in the eye – called the aqueous humor – being unable to drain properly.
This fluid usually flows out of the eye through a canal that resembles a net. When it is blocked, fluid will build up. This buildup of fluid causes pressure and damages the optic nerve.
There are no definite factors that cause glaucoma. However, there are several things that might trigger glaucoma, such as:
- Family history. Glaucoma is a genetic disease that affect members of the same family.
- Old age. Elderly people are more likely to develop glaucoma. Glaucoma sufferers are usually in the age range of 70-80 years.
- Other health issues, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness and diabetes.
There are also other causes of glaucoma, such as eye injury due to certain chemicals, eye infections, blockage of the blood vessels in the eye, and eye inflammation. In some cases, eye glaucoma can develop as a result of another eye surgery.
When to See a Doctor for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma will be treated by an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose glaucoma symptoms through a common eye test.
You are recommended to have an eye test at least once every two years. In this test, the doctor will analyse any potential eye disorder symptoms, including glaucoma.
The glaucoma screening test includes vision tests and eye pressure tests.
Some doctors also perform eye tests by dripping fluid into the patient’s eye. This is done to increase the size of the pupil.
There are also several other tests that can confirm glaucoma symptoms. These tests include:
- Gonioscopy, an examination to observe the front of the eye, which is the fluid-filled space between the iris and the cornea.
- Visual field test or perimetry, a test to observe if some vision has been lost
- Optic nerve assessment, a test done using eye drops to increase pupil size. The examination is performed using optical coherence tomography to scan the back of the eye.
- Eye pressure test or tonometry, a test using a device called a tonometer to measure eye pressure
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Initially, glaucoma sufferers will not experience symptoms. Symptoms would usually appear after years and affect the peripheral vision first.
For this reason, many patients do not realize that they have glaucoma.
In some cases, glaucoma can cause sudden symptoms, such as:
- Excruciating eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Red eye
- Halos around lights
- Blurred vision
These symptoms are very similar to other health disorders. For this reason, it is important that you consult your doctor to confirm the symptoms of glaucoma.
Each type of glaucoma has different symptoms. Acute angle-closure glaucoma has the following symptoms:
- Severe throbbing eye pain
- Red eyes
- Headache on the same side as the affected eye
- Foggy vision
- Dilated eye pupils
Meanwhile, secondary glaucoma’s symptoms depend on the triggering factor. For example, secondary glaucoma caused by an eye infection will experience halos around lights and increase light sensitivity.
In the case of congenital glaucoma affecting children, the symptoms may include:
- Light sensitivity
- Corneal wrinkles
- Habit of rubbing eyes, blinking eyes, or closing eyes continuously all the time
Treatment for Glaucoma
Glaucoma treatment varies depending on the type and symptoms suffered. Some of the most common treatments include eye drops, eye lasers, and surgery.
In open-angle glaucoma, the treatment method is carried out using eye drops on a regular basis. Though eye drops cannot restore vision that has been lost, it can help prevent the vision from worsening.
Generally, the patient will have to apply the eye drops for life.
As for acute angle-closure glaucoma, it needs to be treated by reducing eye pressure using a laser. This procedure can only be done in a hospital or in an eye centre.
In secondary glaucoma, treatment options include eye drops, laser, or surgery. The procedure chosen is adjusted to the factors causing glaucoma.
Meanwhile, for congenital glaucoma in children, a surgical procedure will be required to correct eye problems that cause fluid buildup and increased eye pressure.
Treatment Cost for Glaucoma
The cost for glaucoma treatment varies – depending on the type of glaucoma and treatment method chosen.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of glaucoma treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Glaucoma
The condition of glaucoma cannot be completely prevented, especially if the sufferer has lost the vision. However, there are a number of things you can do to prevent the deterioration of the vision.
First, you should do regular eye tests that include an eye pressure test. Routine eye tests can help detect glaucoma symptoms early on.
Routine eye tests are specifically recommended for people in the age category over 40 years – as they have a greater potential of developing glaucoma. If you are under 40, you are recommended to perform an eye test every 2-4 years. However, if you are over 40, you should get an eye exam at least twice a year.
Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Anemia, heart disease, or diabetes
- Nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Consumption of certain medications such as steroids
Other preventive measures that you can undertake is by exercising regularly. You can walk, run, or jog at least three times a week. These light exercises can help reduce eye pressure.
Conversely, avoid doing yoga exercises that involve a headstand pose – as it can actually increase the eye pressure.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Glaucoma
Treatment of glaucoma patients at home can be done by routinely applying eye drops as prescribed by the doctor. Eye drops may not be able to restore your vision completely, but it can help prevent your eye condition from deteriorating and improve your eye condition.
Moreover, maintaining physical activeness and doing moderate exercise can also help treat glaucoma to reduce eye pressure.