Glaucoma is a disease that causes visual disturbances which can affect eyesight. It is a severe infection of the eye that a variety of factors can cause. The cause of glaucoma is “increased pressure inside the eye” (intraocular pressure). It is due to the overproduction of eye fluid or the obstruction of liquid in the eye. Glaucoma can strike both eyes with different severity.
Glaucoma develops when the circulation of eye fluid disrupts, causing increased pressure in the eye. This may damage the optic nerve. The nerve fibers of the retina, or nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye and the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, damage by this pressure.
However, it’s still unclear why eye fluid production can be excessive or why the discharge channel may clog.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of glaucoma can vary in each patient depending upon the severity and type of glaucoma. However, these are the most common symptoms that patients complain about:
- Pain in the eyes
- Shadow of the circle around the light
- Flushed eyes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Narrowing of the vision or not to be able to see the object at all
Although the cause of glaucoma is not clear, the following factors play a role in increasing an individual’s risk:
- Age over 40 years.
- An injury to the eye or eye surgery.
- Having hight pressure in the eyes or ocular hypertension.
- Having other eye diseases, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, inflammation in the eyes, and retina disorders.
- Family members with history of glaucoma.
- Using corticosteroid drugs long-term.
- Hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or an overactive thyroid gland.
TYPES OF GLAUCOMA
Generally, glaucoma is of two types: closed-angle or acute glaucoma and open-angle or chronic glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma happens due to blockage of fluid drainage of the eye which results in high intraocular pressure. Patients hardly feel the damage in their eyes because the symptoms develop slowly.
Symptoms of primary open-angle are reduced peripheral vision in both eyes slowly.
If it occurs in infancy or in children, it is called congenital glaucoma. The symptoms will appear and are recognizable. However, the symptoms aren’t always easy to spot.
Symptoms of Congenital Glaucoma:
- Watery eyes
- Dewy appearance
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Appearance of enlarged eyes
The closed-angle type is not so common and is called acute glaucoma due to its rapid onset. Angle-closure glaucoma is a life-threatening condition that can quickly result in permanent blindness.
In closed-angle, symptoms develop very quickly and require medical treatment to reduce the pressure in the eye as soon as possible.
Symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma are:
- An eyesore and severe headache
- Vision becomes faint
- Eye redness
- Nausea and vomiting, such as seeing the shadow of the circle on the lamp,
- Vision suddenly impaired in conditions of dim light.
In contrast to the open-angle type, eye fluid drainage hinders because the angle between the iris and cornea is too narrow. These circumstances lead to the occurrence of increased intraocular pressure suddenly.
DIAGNOSIS OF GLAUCOMA
An eye doctor will need information regarding the patient’s health history. And to strengthen the diagnosis, the doctor will perform several tests, including:
In the tonometry technique, the optometrist will examine the patient’s vision and structure of the inside of the eye. Since examination for measuring the pressure is done inside the eye, a general anesthetic is given.
The doctor will examine the eye pressure and perform visual field tests to determine if the patient’s peripheral vision is defective.
Perimetry or visual field tests
This test aims to see if the patient has glaucoma-related peripheral vision loss.
During this examination, the doctor checks the angle between the iris and the cornea. The doctor will determine the angle between the iris and the cornea.
This examination is to determine the presence of damage to the optic nerve due to glaucoma. In this examination, the patient’s is given a particular medicine inside the eyes to enlarge their pupil. After that, the doctor examines the patient’s eye with a tool similar to a microscope.
This test is to measure the thickness of the cornea. If the test results indicate thickening, and the intraocular pressure is also high, and the patient is might be suffering from glaucoma.
TREATMENT OF GLAUCOMA
Diagnosis and treatment should begin as soon as possible. If this condition gets worse, the disease can progress, and the patient may turn blind.
The goal of treatment for this condition is to lower intraocular pressure and prevent widespread eye damage. Following treatment options are available:
Generally, eye drops are often used to treat open-angle glaucoma, which a doctor advises. Drops are helpful to expedite the disposal of the eye fluid and reduce its production.
There are several options of eye drops:
Alpha inhibitors, such as apraclonidine and brimonidine.
Beta-blocker, such as timolol and levobunolol.
Prostaglandins , such as travoprost and bimatoprost.
A combination of eye drops and drugs can lower the level of pressure inside the eye.
Some of the side effects of the use of eye drops are:
- Eyes irritation
- Red eyes
- Eyes feel dry and/or itchy
- Stinging sensation in the eyes
You should not use eye drops without a doctor’s advice. Because some drops have side effects that can affect the functionality of your heart and lungs.
Drugs for Glaucoma
Medications will be prescribed in pill form by the doctor. The drugs, such as dorzolamide and brinzolamide, are carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
Some of the side effects of the pills are:
- Frequent urination
- Problems with memory
- Abdominal pain
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Kidney stones
Open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma can both be treated with laser therapy. In open-angle glaucoma, laser treatment can help to smooth the flow of eye fluid drainage and remove blockages. However, eye drops are usually still required after the laser procedure.
Like laser treatment, surgical procedures such as Trabulectomy, Drainage implant, and Electrocautery are performed if medicines are not able to reduce the pressure inside the eye.
If you notice a change in vision that you think might be due to glaucoma, you should see a doctor right away. Although there is no definitive treatment for glaucoma, several treatments aim to reduce intraocular pressure and prevent widespread eye damage. Glaucoma is treatable with various methods, including eye drops, oral medications, laser therapy, and surgical procedures.
If you need more information on glaucoma, check out this article on Everything you must know about CBG and Glaucoma!