What is glaucoma, symptoms and treatment

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Eyes are delicate and one of the most complex organs of human body. Various emotions can be conveyed through eyes. Presence of cone shaped cells in eyes enable us to perceive rainbow of colors. It is revealed through study that human eye can identify around lacs of colors and can distinguish between 100 shades of every color. Human eye is particularly sensitive to green color.

Glaucoma is eye disorder that causes damage to optic nerve of eyes. Optic nerve is responsible to transmit images and information to brain. Glaucoma also results because of pressure buildup in the interior part of eyes. This increase in pressure is called as intra-ocular pressure.  Glaucoma if not treated on time can lead to permanent loss of vision. Let us study various aspects related to glaucoma.
glaucomaWhat is glaucoma?
When too much pressure builds up in the intra-ocular region, it can damage optic nerve. This increase in pressure can be attributed to improper circulation of fluid in front part of eye. Aqueous humor is the fluid that lubricates eyes through a mesh like channel. This mesh-like channel is called as trabecular mesh-work. When these channels get blocked, flow is obstructed leading to increase in pressure. Prolonged presence of glaucoma can lead to loss of vision. Glaucoma can be hereditary and people above the age of 40 are more susceptible to the disorder.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma generally exhibits no symptoms at all. It is diagnosed when there is noticeable vision loss. One may not even understand that damage has occurred to optic nerve as it does not reveal any physical symptoms in early stage. For this reason, it is called as “silent thief of sight”. One must pay attention to certain indications that can develop into glaucoma. These indications are enlisted below:

  •  Blurry vision
  • Intense pain in eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unable to see bright lights
  • Tunnel vision (narrowing of vision- able to see only those objects that are aligned in straight line)
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Hazy eyes

Regular eye checkup is highly recommended as it will diagnose glaucoma disorder when it is in initial stage.

Who are more susceptible to glaucoma?
Glaucoma can develop in any age range from infants to elderly people. People above the age of 40 are more likely to develop glaucoma. Below are some points enlisted that can increase risk of glaucoma:

  • African-americans, Russian, Japanese, Irish, Hispanic or Scandinavian descents are more prone to develop glaucoma
  • Above the age of 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Injury to eyes
  • Certain medications like prednisoneHow is glaucoma diagnosed?
    Glaucoma can be diagnosed by performing vision tests in combination with detail examination of eye anatomy. Let us understand some diagnostic techniques.
  • Use of tonometer:
    Tonometer is an instrument that is used to examine intra-ocular pressure i.e. how much force is exerted on certain area. It is also useful in determining aqueous fluid flow in the eye. Eye region is made numb by putting few eye drops. Intra-ocular pressure of healthy eye should be below 21mmHg. If its below 15mmHg, then it is considered highly safe. But, if it exceeds limit of 30mHg, there are very high chances of developing glaucoma. Patient having intra-ocular pressure above 30mmHg is at three folds higher risk than the person having intra-ocular pressure of 15mmHg. If high pressure is detected, ophthalmologist has to check circulation of watery fluid and whether there is blockage in trabecular mesh.
  • Visual field testing:
    Visual field testing is used to determine if there is any vision loss because of glaucoma. All you have to do is look straight into the machine and on noticing blinking light, you have to click on button. Doctors will then analyze extent of vision loss.
  • Gonioscopy:
    gonioscopy is used to check circulation of watery fluid in eye. Biomicroscope along with special lenses is used to examine drainage angle which controls and regulates flow of watery fluid.Other techniques such as optical coherence tomography, scanning laser polarimetry and confocal scanning laser opthalmoscopy are also used in combination with above mentioned diagnostic tests to confirm presence of glaucoma.What are the treatments available for glaucoma?
    Various treatments are available to cure different types of glaucoma. Treatment depends on the intensity and extent of glaucoma. Here are some treatments enlisted that are used commonly to treat glaucoma.
  • Most of the types of glaucomas are first treated with medications and use of eye drops. If these treatments do not show any sign of improvements, then doctor generally opts for laser surgery.
  • Surgery is the only option used to cure congenital or birth glaucoma.
  • Eye drops: Eye drops are commonly used to treat glaucoma. They are used to either decrease the flow of aqueous fluid or regulates its flow. Some patients may however face certain side-effects in form of redness and irritation of eye, allergy, blurred vision etc. Let your doctor if you are taking any other additional medications, suffering from any allergy or having any disorder.
  • Laser surgery: Laser surgery helps in eliminating blockages formed in eyes or helps to increase outflow of fluid in eye. It is used to treat both open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Laser surgery is divided into different categories like trabeculoplasty- used to clear trabecular mesh drainage area,  iridotomy- to allow fluid to move freely by making a small hole in iris and cyclophotocoagulation- a beam of laser is used to treat middle layer of eye to reduce production of watery fluid.
  • Microsurgery: In this type of surgery, a new path is created to allow drainage of fluid; thereby reducing intra-ocular pressure. It is not the safest option as there are some risks involved. Thee may be chances of temporary or permanent loss of vision. Patient may as well suffer from infection or bleeding.How can glaucoma be prevented?
    There are no such specific precautions that reduce chances of glaucoma. However, early diagnosis of disorder helps tremendously in curing the disease. Early diagnosis leads to less pain, less turmoil and speedy recovery. Glaucoma can be hereditary. Check if there is any medical history of glaucoma in your family. If there is, chances are that you may as well suffer from glaucoma. So its always better to go for regular eye check-ups. Also ensuring that you consume foods rich in vitamin A will keep your eyes healthy. Vitamin A (retinol) is used to maintain good eyesight and keep vision related issues at bay. Beta carotene is a component of vitamin A and is commonly found in orange-yellow colored foods like papaya, mango, carrot, cantaloupes, squash etc.  Lack of vitamin A results in night blindness.Is glaucoma hereditary?
    Yes, glaucoma can be hereditary that means it can be passed down from parents to children. If your parents suffer from glaucoma, you are also at higher risk of developing glaucoma.

    What is the outlook for people with glaucoma?
    If there is vision loss because of glaucoma, it cannot be repaired. However, temporary vision loss and partial loss of vision can be treated and its progress can be stopped. Most of the patients with glaucoma have reduce chances of blindness if they rigorously follow treatments and take suggested medications on time.

    What is the cost of treatment for glaucoma?
    Cost of treatment depends on how far vision has affected and damage done to optic nerve. Cost is also dependent on type of treatment chosen. Glaucoma treatment cost in India are quite affordable and may range in thousands. To more information and cost about glaucoma surgery in India click here.

    To conclude, best way to avoid occurrence of glaucoma is to go for regular eye checkups and live healthy life. It is very important that we take good care of our eyes. Wear glares when traveling in sun to avoid ultraviolet rays to enter into eyes. If your occupation demands you to sit continuously in front of computer, wear spectacles that block rays emitted from the screen. Wash your eyes after  every hour. These certain precautions will not only help to maintain healthy vision but also keep vision problems at far distance.

    Author Bio:

Pousali is an M.Phil in English literature and likes to explore genres related to arts and aesthetics. She is an ardent believer of the ‘learning, unlearning and relearning’ process. i would love to write a article on all health related topics.