Maintaining your eye health is crucial for your well-being; however, many individuals do not know enough about glaucoma and how to detect it. Unfortunately, this lack of awareness results in too many people losing their vision for something preventable.
To ensure you don’t fall into this category, read on for everything you need to know about glaucoma causes and treatment.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a dangerous eye condition that can lead to blindness. This occurs as a result of glaucoma damaging the eye’s optic nerve, which is what carries visual information to the brain. By disabling these nerves, glaucoma obstructs the movement of visual information which, ultimately, results in sustained vision loss. If glaucoma goes undetected and untreated, it will cause peripheral vision loss initially, and eventually, blindness.
In many cases, heightened eye pressure – known as ocular hypertension – is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma. That being said, it is vital to recognize that not every individual with heightened eye pressure will develop glaucoma and that it can also emerge without increased eye pressure.
Are there different types of glaucoma?
There are two main types of glaucoma:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma. The most common type – this occurs when the drainage angle that connects to the trabecular meshwork appears normal, but fluid doesn’t leave the eye quickly enough.
- Angle-closure glaucoma. It is less common and occurs when the drainage angle is too narrow or starting to close, which stops the necessary outflow of fluid.
Additionally, several more types of glaucoma are significantly less common. These include low-tension glaucoma, which often occurs as a result of low blood pressure; congenital glaucoma, that develops if children are born with a defect in their drainage angle, and secondary glaucoma that arises as a result of complications due to other medical conditions.
Who can develop glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a widespread condition that can affect anyone; however, it is most common in people over the age of 45. Additionally, African Americans over the age of 40, people over age 60, and people with a family history of glaucoma are at an even higher risk. Furthermore, babies and children may be at risk of early-onset glaucoma.
Currently, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in developed countries. However, with heightened awareness, this statistic can be reduced. The most important thing that you can do to catch glaucoma early is to get a thorough dilated eye exam. During this type of eye exam, an eye doctor will place drops in your eyes that will dilate the pupil, if there is no contra-indication to do so. By doing this, they will be able to utilize a specialized magnifying lens that enables them to see any signs of damage or problems in the back of your eyes.
The only way to ensure that you or your family members don’t have glaucoma-related vision loss is to visit your eye doctor for these thorough dilated eye exams. If you believe you are at risk of developing glaucoma, you should be examined every one to two years to reduce the likelihood of it progressing unnoticed. Unfortunately, too many people lack the awareness required to get glaucoma diagnosed early. Don’t be one of them.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
So many cases of glaucoma go unnoticed (until it is too late) because the condition generally does not cause any pain and does not produce any symptoms until the noticeable vision loss occurs in advanced stages of the disease. This is why routine eye exams done by a reputable eye doctor are so important.
That being said, if you are having any sudden, severe symptoms of blurry vision, and if you are seeing halos around lights or experiencing eye pain, then you want to go and see an eye doctor immediately. This will ensure that they can check out your eyes, alleviate these painful symptoms, and help prevent permanent vision loss.
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What are the treatment options for glaucoma?
If an individual has glaucoma, then treatment is essential; otherwise, they will slowly lose their peripheral vision and then their central vision. Keep in mind that once glaucoma has damaged an individual’s optic nerve, then the lost vision cannot be restored. That is why individuals must remain diligent in combining early detection with treatment that can control glaucoma development.
In order to treat glaucoma, it is essential to lower an individual’s eye pressure. Some of the treatment options prompt the eye to generate less fluid, while other options lower the eye pressure by encouraging fluid to drain away from the eye. For this reason, the regular use of medicated eye drops is a standard treatment for glaucoma, especially in the early stages. In some cases, it may be necessary to utilize more than one type of eye drop. As it is a chronic condition, once prescribed eye drops, individuals may be required to use them every day for the rest of their life.
Other forms of glaucoma treatment involve microsurgery, laser treatments, and different types of eye surgery if eye drops aren’t enough. An individual’s course of treatment will depend on the type, severity, and responsiveness of glaucoma to treatment. Based on all of these factors, eye doctors will prescribe medical treatment, surgery, or a mixture of both. The surgery options for glaucoma include Minimally-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS), Trabecular and Shunt Glaucoma Surgery, and Laser Glaucoma Surgery.
Can you prevent the development of glaucoma?
Regularly exercising and maintaining an active lifestyle, eating a varied and healthy diet, and not smoking will decrease the likelihood of developing many diseases and conditions.
In order to reduce your risk of Glaucoma, early detection is key. Regular eye exams during which your Eyedoc has a good look at your Optic Nerve will enable vision preserving early diagnosis.
If you are concerned about your eyes’ health or want to speak to a specialist, reach out to the specialists at a trusted clinic who will happily discuss options with you. According to the specialists at Gulf Eye Center in Dubai, there is nothing more important than your vision, so make sure you are doing all you can to keep your eyes healthy, today and tomorrow.
Do you know anyone who has suffered from glaucoma? Were you aware of this condition? Let us know your thoughts and any relevant insights in the comments below.
Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.