Glaucoma



Category Glaucoma

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that damages your eye's optic nerve. It gets worse over time. It's often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma tends to run in families. You usually don’t get it until later in life. The increased pressure in your eye, called intraocular pressure, can damage your optic nerve, which sends images to your brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years.

Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain. Visit your eye doctor regularly so they can diagnose and treat glaucoma before you have long-term vision loss. If you lose vision, it can’t be restored. But lowering eye pressure can help you keep your vision stable. Most people with glaucoma who follow their treatment plan and have regular eye examination are able to keep their vision.

Glaucoma Causes
The fluid inside your eye, called aqueous humor, usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked, or the eye is producing too much fluid, the liquid builds up. Sometimes, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it can be inherited, meaning it’s passed from parents to children.

Less common 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 eye surgery to correct another condition can sometimes bring it on. It usually affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

It mostly affects adults over 40, but young adults, children, and even infants can have it. African American people tend to get it more often when they're younger and with more vision loss.

You’re more likely to get it if you:

  • Are of African American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
  • Are over 40
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are nearsighted or farsighted
  • Have poor vision
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain steroid medications such as prednisone
  • Take certain drugs for bladder control or seizures, or some over-the-counter cold remedies
  • Have had an injury to your eye or eyes
  • Have corneas that are thinner than usual
  • Have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Have high eye pressure

Glaucoma Symptoms

Most people with open-angle glaucoma don’t have symptoms. If symptoms do develop, it’s usually late in the disease. That’s why glaucoma is often called the sneak thief of vision. The main sign is usually a loss of side, or peripheral, vision. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma usually come on faster and are more obvious.

Damage can happen quickly. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical care right away:

  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in your eye
  • The eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Eye pain

Glaucoma Diagnosis

Glaucoma tests are painless and don’t take long. Your eye doctor will test your vision. They’ll use drops to widen (dilate) your pupils and examine your eyes. They’ll check your optic nerve for signs of glaucoma. They may take photographs so they can spot changes on your next visit.

They’ll do a test called tonometry to check your eye pressure. They may also do a visual field test to see if you've lost peripheral vision. If your doctor suspects glaucoma, they may order special imaging tests of your optic nerve.

Glaucoma Treatment

Your doctor may use prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, or microsurgery to lower pressure in your eye.

Eye Drops:- These either lower the creation of fluid in your eye or increases its flow out, lowering eye pressure. Side effects can include allergies, redness, stinging, blurred vision, and irritated eyes. Some glaucoma drugs may affect your heart and lungs. Because of potential drug interactions, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medical problems you have or other medications you take. Also, let them know if it’s hard for you to follow a regimen involving two or three different eye drops or if they have side effects. They may be able to change your treatment.

Oral Medication:- Your doctor might also prescribe medication for you to take by mouth, such as a beta-blocker or a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. These drugs can improve drainage or slow the creation of fluid in your eye.

Laser Surgery:- This procedure can slightly raise the flow of fluid from your eye if you have open-angle glaucoma. It can stop fluid blockage if you have angle-closure glaucoma.

Glaucoma Prevention

You can’t prevent glaucoma. But if you find it early, you can lower your risk of eye damage.

These steps may help protect your vision:

  • Have regular eye examination. The sooner your doctor spots the signs of glaucoma, the sooner you can start treatment. All adults need to be checked for glaucoma every 3 to 5 years. If you’re over age 40 and have a family history of the disease, get a complete eye exam from an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. If you have health problems like diabetes or are at risk of other eye diseases, you may need to go more often.
  • Learn your family history. Ask your relatives whether any of them have been diagnosed with glaucoma.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions. If they find that you have high eye pressure, they might give you drops to prevent glaucoma.
  • Exercise. Do moderate activity like walking or jogging at least three times a week.
  • Protect your eyes. Use protective eyewear when playing sports or working on home improvement projects.
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