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What is Glaucoma?

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, is responsible for fifteen percent of world blindness. It is a family of ocular diseases characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve, which is the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain.

Often called the "sneak thief of sight" most forms of glaucoma do not produce symptoms until the optic nerve is already severely damaged. But if diagnosed early, the disease can be controlled and permanent vision loss can be prevented.

Key points to remember about Glaucoma
  •  Glaucoma generally has no signs or symptoms until serious loss of vision has occurred.
  • If you have a family history of Glaucoma you are at a higher risk and hence need a regular eye check up. Everyone, from babies to senior citizens, is at a risk of developing this disease.
  • The best way to protect the damage is early diagnosis, proper treatment and regular follow ups.
  • You and your doctor will need to become partners and work together to control your condition and prevent it from advancing.

It is a chronic condition and needs lifetime monitoring and treatment



What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

In most cases, glaucoma is asymptomatic (has no symptoms). By the time an individual experiences decreased vision, the disease is frequently in its latter stages. Since early warning signs of glaucoma are rare, it is important --- especially for those at risk --- to have medical eye examinations at appropriate intervals, as described in this section.

Symptoms depend on the type of glaucoma the individual has.

  • Those who have chronic glaucoma may not be aware of any symptoms because the disease develops slowly and patients rarely notice loss of peripheral vision.
  • Those who have an acute form of glaucoma may develop severe symptoms because ocular pressure rises quickly and they may experience:
    • Blurred vision, especially at night
    • Halos or rainbows around lights
    • Severe headaches or eye pain
    • Nausea

How is Glaucoma detected or diagnosed?

  • Glaucoma is detected during routine and regular eye examinations. Your Eye Doctor will perform.
  • Tonometry i.e. measure intraocular pressure of your eye.
  • Gonioscopy i.e. inspect drainage angle of your eye.
  • Ophthalmoscopy i.e. examines and judge optic nerve damage of your eye, if any.
  • Disc Photography to record optic disc details.
  • Automated Perimetry i.e. test the visual field of each eye.
  • Pachymetry - Use to measure corneal thickness.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) - It is non invasive imaging modality, for the earliest detection of Glaucoma, It gives exact measurement of retinal nerve fibre layer

Who are at risk?

Anyone can suffer from glaucoma. But some people are at more risk than others and risk factors are:

  • Increasing age.
  • Nearsightednes.s
  • Family history of glaucoma-children & siblings of known glaucoma patients should get their eyes checked regularly.
  • Previous eye injuries or surgeries.
  • Other diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Thin Corneas are a risk factor for Glaucoma.

How is Glaucoma treated?

Although intraocular pressure is only one of the major risk factors for glaucoma, lowering it via various medical or surgical techniques is currently the mainstay of glaucoma treatment. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. However it can be successfully prevented from advancing with proper treatment. The treatment options include:

  • Eye drops (or a combination of eye drops and pills) to reduce intraocular pressure. Several different classes of glaucoma medications are available to provide pressure reduction including beta blockers, prostaglandin analogues, alpha adrenergic agaonists, miotic, epinephrine compounds, and oral and topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. These medications work by either reducing the rate at which fluid in the eye is produced or increase the outflow of fluid from the eye.
  • Laser treatment (YAG Peripheral Iridectomy) to open the drainage angle and reduce intraocular pressure in cases of angle closure glaucoma. This cures or prevents Angle Closure Glaucoma in 95% of patients. Doctor Eye Institute is equipped with Zeiss (Germany) YAG laser for doing peripheral buttonhole iridectomy in Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma.
  • Surgery to create a new passage for fluid drainage. Surgery is usually reserved for cases that cannot be controlled by medication and following appropriate laser treatment. Filtration surgery with releasable sutures (Trabeculectomy). This procedure opens the full thickness of the drainage area.

EX-PRESS™* Glaucoma Filtration Device is the latest and most effective device implanted during the Glaucoma Surgery to control the eye pressure. The EX-PRESS™ Glaucoma Filtration Device enables the drainage system of the eye, which has been damaged by glaucoma, to be bypassed.

Can Glaucoma be prevented?

No, Glaucoma unfortunately cannot be prevented, but early detection and treatment can prevent loss of vision due to glaucoma. Hence, all patients past age of 40 yrs should get their eye checked once a year by a qualified eye doctor.