What is Glaucoma? How does it affect Vision?

Glaucoma is a state that damages your eye’s optic nerve. Also, it gets worse over time. It’s often connected to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma is likely to be run in families as well. As a rule, you don’t get it until later in life. The intraocular pressure or the increased pressure in your eye can damage your optic nerve that sends images to your brain. If the damage gets worse, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years time. Most people suffering from glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain. Visit your eye doctor on a regular basis so they can detect and treat glaucoma before you have long-term vision loss. If you lose vision, it can’t be brought back. But reducing eye pressure can help you retain your sight. Thus, most people with glaucoma who follow their treatment plan and have regular eye exams are able to retain their vision. 

Glaucoma Causes

The fluid inside your eye, called aqueous humour, usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked, the liquid piles up. Sometimes, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it can be inherited, meaning it’s passed on from parents to children. Some lesser known causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside your eye, and inflammatory conditions. It’s rare, but the eye surgery to correct another state can sometimes bring it on. It more often than not affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Affecting adults over 40 by and large, young adults, children, and even infants can have it. You are also more prone to get it if you:
  • Are over 40 years
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have poor eye sight
  • Take certain steroid medications
  • Have had a wound to your eye or eyes
  • Had corneas that are thinner than usual
  • High blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes
  • Have high eye pressure
  • Are either nearsighted or farsighted

Types of Glaucoma

a) Narrow-angle Glaucoma

People often describe this as “the worst eye pain” in their lives. Symptoms also strike quickly which include:
  • Severe throbbing eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Headaches (on the same side of the diseased eye)
  • Blurry or foggy vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Dilated pupil
  • Nausea and vomiting
This type of glaucoma is a medical emergency. Hence, see an ophthalmologist or go to an emergency room immediately. Damage to the optic nerve may start in on within a few hours. Thus, if not treated within 6 to 12 hours, it may bring severe loss of vision or blindness on a permanent basis. It can sometimes even cause a permanently enlarged (dilated) pupil.

b) Congenital Glaucoma in Infants

This regularly shows up in newborns or during your baby’s first few years. Symptoms include:
  • Tearing, sensitivity to light, and eyelid spasms
  • A bigger cornea and fogging of the normally transparent cornea
  • Regular rubbing of eyes, squinting, or keeping the eyes closed much of the time

     c) Secondary Glaucoma and other forms

Its symptoms depend on what’s causing your pressure to rise. Redness inside your eye (the doctor will call this uveitis) can cause you to see halos. Also, bright lights might bother your eyes (you’ll hear the doctor call this light sensitivity or photophobia). Eye injuries such as corneal edema, bleeding, or retinal detachment can cover glaucoma symptoms. If a cataract is the reason, your vision will have been bad for a while. If you have had an eye injury, an advanced cataract or inflammation in your eyes, your eye doctor will time and again check to make sure you don’t have glaucoma. Another common cause of secondary glaucoma is topical or systematic use of steroids. 

How is Glaucoma Treated?

If the glaucoma does not react to medication or if you cannot endure the side effects, your doctor may alter medications or recommend one of several surgical techniques:
  • Laser trabeculoplasty creates tiny laser burns in the area where the fluid drains. Thus, bettering the outflow rate of aqueous fluid. This relatively short procedure can often be done in an ophthalmologist’s clinic.
  • Trabeculectomy is a surgical process that creates a new channel for fluid outflow in cases in which the intraocular pressure is high and the optic nerve damage advances. Long-term results vary but, in general, the success rate is good.
  • Surgical implants that force fluid out of the eye may also be used to lessen pressure in the eye.
Keep in mind all forms of medical or surgical treatment have likely benefits and risks. Before giving your nod, always clarify with the surgeon regarding any treatment or surgery along with the possible future benefits, effective alternatives, and potential risks or complications. 

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