The eye continuously produces aqueous humor. As new aqueous streams into the eyes, the same amount of aqueous should also come out of the eyes. The fluid passes out through the drainage angle. This process keeps the eye pressure or the intraocular pressure of the eye at a normal level.
But once the eye drainage malfunctions due to fluid build-up, the intraocular pressure increases. And as the eye pressure increases, the optic nerve is caused to be damaged. In effect, the damaging of the optic nerve will result in an eye disorder called – “glaucoma.”
Glaucoma may run in the families and the person may develop eye disease at an older age. The person affected by glaucoma may lose their vision permanently or in the worst-case scenario, total blindness may take place.
In most cases, people with glaucoma display no symptoms or pains at an early stage. A regular eye check is suggested to protect the eyes from probable eye disorders or at least help the eye slow down the development of the disease.
Lost vision with glaucoma is not restorable. To keep the sight in the case of glaucoma is to lower the pressure of the affected eye. Most people with glaucoma were able to keep their vision by following the treatment plan and having a regular eye check with an ophthalmologist. Treatment can also reduce mental trauma that may otherwise result from the psychological turmoil.
The chronic forms of glaucoma cause the destruction of the vision of the affected person. It is then much wiser to know the risk factors of the eye disease before the signs and symptoms become evident, these include the following:
- A person who is over 40 years of age
- Had a traumatic eye injury or some eye surgery
- Presence of high level of intraocular pressure
- Poor eye vision
- Having a family background of glaucoma
- Having thinner corneas than usual
- Have thinning of the optic nerve
- Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Taking corticosteroid medications for a long time like eye drops
- Underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia
- Are of African American, Japanese, Irish, Russian, Inuit, Scandinavian Hispanic, or Asian descent
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of glaucoma may vary depending on the type and advancement of the condition, as follows:
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stage
- Blind spots at the peripheral vision
- Severe eye pain
- Severe headache
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye redness
- Rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights
Congenital Glaucoma in Infants
The symptoms usually occur in newborns or during the baby’s first few years. These may include:
- Sensitivity to light
- A larger cornea
- Eyelid spasms
- The opacity of the usually transparent cornea
- Habitual squinting, rubbing of the eyes, or keeping the eyes closed most of the time
The only appropriate way to diagnose glaucoma is to have a complete eye check-up. The following diagnostic procedures can be given to a person with glaucoma, which includes:
- Checking on eye pressure
- Inspection of the drainage angle of the eye
- Examination of the optic nerve for damage
- Testing of the peripheral vision
- Taking a picture or computer measurement of the optic nerve
- Measuring the thickness of the cornea
As said, glaucoma causes permanent damage in the eye of the person. It is an irreversible condition. But medications and surgery may help stop further damage. To treat glaucoma, the ophthalmologist may recommend one or more of the following treatments, namely:
Eye drop medicine usually controls further damage of glaucoma. It lowers the eye pressure. It is recommended for use to reduce the amount of aqueous fluid in the eyes or reduce the eye pressure by helping the fluid to flow better through the drainage angle.
The eye drop medications for glaucoma may help the person keep the vision, but considerable adverse effects are also evident, these include:
- Red skin around the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Itching or stinging sensation
- Changes in energy level
- Changes in breathing especially in cases of asthma
- Changes in heartbeat and pulse
- Eyelash growth
- Changes in eye color or eyelid appearance
- Laser Treatment
To lower down the eye pressure, the doctor may use lasers to drain the accumulating fluid out of the eye.
- Eye Surgery
If the use of an eye drop or laser treatment didn’t work, the last recourse that the doctor may suggest is to have the surgery. These may include:
This surgery is used for people with open-angle glaucoma. This is done to make the drainage angle function better and allows the fluid to flow out properly and reduce the eye pressure.
This is done for the people with angle-closure glaucoma. This is used to create a tiny hole in the iris and helps the fluid flow to the drainage angle.
- Operating room surgery
This creates a new drainage channel for the aqueous humor to flow out of the eye.
This is to create a tiny flap in the sclera, in doing so, the aqueous humor will be able to flow out of the eye through the flap and into the bleb. The fluid is then absorbed by the tissue around the eye, lowering eye pressure.
- Glaucoma drainage devices
This is the implantation of a tiny drainage tube in the eye. The glaucoma drainage implant directs the fluid to a collection area (called a reservoir). The reservoir is created beneath the conjunctiva. Then the fluid is absorbed into nearby blood vessels.
The following self-care tips can help the person detect glaucoma earlier to slow down the progress and prevent vision loss:
- Regular Eye Check-up
The sooner the glaucoma is discovered, the sooner the treatment may start. People over 40 years old and with a family history of the disease may seek an eye exam every 1 to 2 years. But for those with other underlying causes like diabetes may need to see a doctor more often.
- Follow the Medications
Take the prescribed eye drop medications regularly in treating glaucoma to lower the eye pressure.
- Protect Your Eyes
Always use protective eyewear when engaging in sports or when working that may put the eyes on risk. Serious eye injuries may lead to glaucoma.
- Regular Exercise
Doing moderate physical activities like walking or jogging may help lower eye pressure.
- Know Your Family History
It is better to investigate the family background regarding the diseases that the person may also contract in the near future like glaucoma. It is better to be proactive when it comes to this for the purpose of prevention or early medical management in order to have a much healthier and happier life. As it is said, prevention is better than cure.