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Glaucoma. What you need to know



Glaucoma. What you need to know


When it comes to eye care, we always try to give you the best solutions and the latest information out there. We know that it’s often challenging to seek out a solution when you don’t know if anything is wrong, which is why we’ve put together this short piece on glaucoma. This article unpacks what it is, what the causes are, and how you can work towards treating it. As with all of our eye care blogs, we've enlisted the help of experts. With a condition as potentially consequential as glaucoma, if you exhibit any of these symptoms, we advise you contact an optometrist as soon as possible.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye's optic nerve and usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. This optic nerve's core responsibility is to supply visual information to your brain, and the extra fluid build-up increases the pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve. As time passes, this additional pressure can erode the nerve tissue, which could lead to vision loss or eventual blindness.

There are several forms of glaucoma with the two most common types being primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). Primary open-angle glaucoma is often referred to as; "the sneak thief of sight" because it has no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. Normal-tension glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that usually share common traits, such as high eye pressure, damage to the optic nerve and gradual sight loss.

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. It can often go undetected because it develops slowly and sometimes without noticeable sight loss for years. People who have this form don’t notice because substantial damage is done to the eye gradually. The initial loss of vision of side or peripheral vision, while visual acuity or sharpness is sustained until late in the disease.

By the time a patient is aware of vision loss, the disease is usually quite advanced.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when the iris is very close to the drainage angle in the eye. The iris can end up blocking the drainage angle, almost like a clogged drain. When it comes to symptoms, it's important to remember they can vary depending on the type and stage of your condition. The most common symptoms in angle-closure glaucoma are:

  • Severe headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness


Treatment:

Glaucoma is incurable, but with early diagnosis and treatment, most cases of glaucoma can be managed, preventing the disease from progressing to vision damage or permanent blindness.
Medication: There are various ways of treating glaucoma, but the number one desired outcome is to lower your eye pressure (intraocular pressure).
Depending on your situation, your options may include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment, surgery or a combination of these.

Medication:

Glaucoma is often controlled with eye drop medicine. Used everyday eye drops lower eye pressure. Some eye drops reduce the amount of aqueous fluid the eye generates. Other eye drops reduce pressure by helping fluid flow better through the drainage angle. If eye drops alone don't bring your eye pressure down to the desired level, your doctor may also prescribe an oral medication.

Surgery and other therapies

Other treatment options include laser therapy and various surgical procedures. The purpose of the following techniques is to improve the drainage of fluid within the eyes, thereby lowering pressure:

  • Laser therapy
  • Filtering surgery
  • Drainage tubes
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)


If left untreated, glaucoma will eventually cause blindness.

Unfortunately, vision loss from glaucoma is not reversible with treatment, even with surgery, which is why you must see an eye care professional for regular eye examinations. If glaucoma is detected during an eye exam, your doctor can prescribe a preventative treatment to help protect your vision.


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