Glaucoma

 

Introduction

Glaucoma is a term that describes a group of eye conditions that affect vision. Glaucoma often affects both eyes, usually in varying degrees. One eye may develop glaucoma quicker than the other.

 

Figure : Normal eye & eye with Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the drainage tubes (trabecular meshwork) within the eye become  slightly  blocked.  This  prevents   eye   fluid (aqueous humour) from draining properly.

 

When  the  fluid  cannot  drain  properly,  pressure builds up. This is called intraocular pressure. This can damage the optic nerve (which connects the eye to the brain) and the nerve fibres from the retina (the light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye).

Types of Glaucoma

There are four main types of glaucoma

 

► Chronic open-angle glaucoma – this is the most common type of glaucoma and develops very slowly

 

►  Primary angle-closure glaucoma– this is rare and can occur slowly (chronic) or may develop rapidly (acute) with a

      sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye

 

►  Secondary glaucoma– this occurs as a result of an  eye  injury  or  another  eye  condition,  such  as uveitis

       (inflammation  of  the  middle  layer  of  the eye)

 

► Developmental glaucoma  (congenital glaucoma) – this is rare but can be serious. It is usually present at birth or

      develops shortly after birth. It is caused by an abnormality of the eye).

 

Figure : Open & Closed-angle glaucoma

Signs & Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of primary open angle glaucoma and acute angle-closure glaucoma are quite different.

Figure : How a person with healthy eye vision sees

Figure : How a person with advanced vision loss from glaucoma sees the same thing

Signs and symptoms of primary open-angle

glaucoma

• Peripheral vision is gradually lost. This nearly always affects

  both eyes

• In advanced stages, the patient has tunnel vision

Signs and symptoms of closed angle glaucoma

•  Eye pain, usually severe often accompanied by

   nausea, and sometimes vomiting

•  Blurred vision

•  Lights appear extra halo-like glows around them

•  Red eyes

•  Sudden, unexpected vision problems, especially

   when lighting is poor

Risk Factors

•  Increasing age

•  African-American heritage

•  High blood pressure

•  Long-term steroid treatment

•  Family history

•  Diabetes

•  Nearsightedness

•  Eye injuries

Treating Glaucoma

Glaucoma  can  be  treated  with  eye  drops,  laser treatment  or  surgery.  However,  early  diagnosis  is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed. Treatment aims to control the condition and minimize future damage.

 

If  left  untreated,  glaucoma  can  cause  visual impairment. But if it is diagnosed and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be prevented.

 

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