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What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that slowly damages the optic nerve of our eyes. It is most often caused by the buildup of pressure and fluid inside our eyes. If not treated early, glaucoma can affect vision and result in permanent vision loss or total blindness in individuals as the disease progresses.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Though it is mostly diagnosed in adults, it can impact people at any age. Individuals affected by glaucoma show no symptoms or early signs of glaucoma or pain. Therefore, getting regular eye exams and checkups for early detection is the best way to know and treat this condition.
In most cases, the common cause of glaucoma has been traced back to the family history. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Individuals affected by glaucoma show no symptoms or early signs of glaucoma or pain. Therefore, getting regular eye exams and checkups for early detection is the best way to know and treat this condition.
This article will detail the early signs of glaucoma, its types, risk factors, and prescribed treatment methods.
Types And Early Signs Of Glaucoma
Here is a list of the different types and the early signs of glaucoma:
1. Open-Angle Glaucoma
What Is It?
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma found in individuals. In this condition, there is no problem with the drain structure of the eye, but there are issues with the fluid flow of the eye, which eventually leads individuals to lose vision.
There are no obvious signs or symptoms in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma. But gradually, individuals tend to lose their side or peripheral vision. It happens slowly that you don’t realize it until you lose a significant amount of peripheral vision.
Open-angle glaucoma is also referred to as chronic open-angle glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, and wide-angle glaucoma. The best way to keep this at bay is by consulting an eye doctor and getting regular eye exams before leading to vision loss.
2. Acute- Angle Closure Glaucoma
What Is It?
Acute-closure glaucoma, also referred to as narrow-angle glaucoma or chronic-angle closure glaucoma, is very common in Asian countries. In this condition, the eye does not drain the fluid as it should because the drain space between the cornea and iris has become very narrow, which causes the buildup of eye pressure. The increased pressure further leads to severe eye pain and vision changes.
The symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma are very much noticeable, and the damage occurs instantly. Some of the warning signs of closed-angle glaucoma include:
- Severe eye pain
- Redness of eyes
- Blurred vision
- Dilation of pupil
- Seeing halos around lights
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is very serious and needs medical attention immediately to prevent blindness or significant vision loss.
3. Normal-Tension Glaucoma
What Is It?
In normal-tension glaucoma, the optic nerve in our eyes becomes damaged, but the eye pressure will be within the normal range. The optic nerve damage further leads to blind spots in the field of vision.
This is the major reason for people having a sensitive optic nerve or when less blood is supplied to their optic nerve. Some experts also call this condition a form of open-angle glaucoma.
4. Pigmentary Glaucoma
What Is It?
This condition is also referred to as pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS). It happens when the tiny pigment granules from our iris build up and clog the drainage channels, raising the pressure inside our eyes.
Due to the increase in eye pressure levels, individuals with this condition may see halos or have blurred or foggy vision when engaging in activities like jogging or playing baseball.
Read more about the early signs of glaucoma
Treatment For Glaucoma
Some of the prescribed treatments for glaucoma are as follows:
1. Eye Drops
Eye drops are usually used to either lower the fluid creation inside our eyes or increase the flow. However, in some cases, eye drops can cause side effects like red eyes, blurred vision, stinging, irritation in the eyes, and many more.
Some of the drugs prescribed for glaucoma have certain risk factors; they can cause complications if you have heart disease or lung problems. Henceforth, make sure to let your doctor know about your medical problems beforehand to receive appropriate treatment without any complications.
An eye doctor sometimes prescribes oral medications to treat glaucoma. Medications like beta-blockers or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are prescribed to enhance or slow down the fluid creation in our eyes.
3. Laser Surgery
Laser surgery is helpful to slowly raise the fluid flow in your eyes in case you have open-angle glaucoma. And in the case of angle-closure glaucoma, it can stop the fluid blockage. An eye doctor uses the following procedures:
- Trabeculoplasty – to open the drainage area
- Iridotomy- to make a small hole in the iris, which will help in the free flow of fluid
- Cyclophotocoagulation – to treat the middle areas of our eyes and to bring down the fluid flow in them
4. Micro Eye Surgery
In some cases, microsurgery is used to treat glaucoma. A new channel is created through trabeculectomy to drain the fluid and clear the drainage system in our eyes. This surgery may also need to be performed more than once.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
Once individuals enter adulthood, they must get screened for glaucoma to detect the early signs of glaucoma. This is a very important checkup which must be done regularly as we age. The exam will include testing the eye pressure, pupil dilation, and IOP measurements also.
There are many risk factors associated with glaucoma. The following is a list of some factors that can increase your chances of getting affected by glaucoma:
A significant number of glaucoma cases have been traced to individuals with a family history of glaucoma. If anyone in your family has this condition, get tested as early as possible.
The older you are, the higher the chances of getting affected by this disease. Glaucoma is most likely to affect adults over the age of 60
Hispanics, people of African origin, Asians are at a higher risk of glaucoma even at 40.
- Medical Conditions
Hypertension, thin corneas and myopia, chronic eye inflammation, and other eye-related problems put you at a higher risk.
How To Prevent Glaucoma?
One cannot completely stop the sudden onset of glaucoma. However, some measures can be employed in the early stages to minimize the increased risk of glaucoma in individuals and prevent vision loss. Some of them include:
- Regular comprehensive eye exams and checkups
- Eating a proper diet high in nutrition
- Incorporate a proper exercise regime for blood circulation
- Quit smoking
- Avoid consuming too much caffeine
- Wear eye protection for better eye health. Protect yourself from eye injuries, sun, and other factors that cause damages to your vision.
Most types of glaucoma cannot be prevented. However, a regular comprehensive eye exam can pave the way for early detection, stopping the vision loss caused by the disease to a great extent. If you suspect any early warning signs or early symptoms of glaucoma, make sure to get checked as early as possible to prevent irreversible vision loss.