What is Glaucoma ?
Glaucoma is a disease that damages eye’s optic nerve resulting in vision loss and in most extreme cases even blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly begins to rise. However, with early diagnosis, you can often treat your eyes and guard them from serious vision loss.
Most glaucomas remain asymptomatic until advanced stages that is why it is called silent killer of sight. Few alarming symptoms may be
- Frequent change of reading glasses.
- Gradual decrease of side vision.
- Reduce vision in dim illumination.
Hence periodical check up, especially for those at risk, is necessary to detect glaucoma early.
Some individuals, especially if there is a rapid build up of eye pressure may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain around the eyes ,brow ache.
- Coloured halos or rings seen around lights.
- Headaches, pain and redness of the eyes.
- Increasing Age.
- Family history of Glaucoma.
- History of any eye trauma in the past.
- Use of steroid in any form.
The three basic tests in detection of glaucoma:-
Measuring intraocular pressure with Tonometry – It’s a simple and painless procedure and considered the initial screening test for glaucoma.
Gonioscopy – Examination of anterior chamber angle.
Optic Nerve Head Examination – After dilating the pupil.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This test examines the Optic Nerve Head and Retinal Nerve Fibre layer thickness for early detection.
Visual field test (Automated) – Also known as perimetery. This test is very important for the follow up of the disease.
Pachymetry – It measure the corneal thickness to know true IOP of your eyes and to set target IOP.
Glaucoma can not be cured. Appropriate treatment and regular follow up can preserve residual vision from further damage.
The purpose of treatment is to lower the pressure inside your eyes. Several drugs are available to reduce formation of fluid within the eye or promote its drainage. For most glaucoma patients regular use of medications will suffice to control the pressure inside the eye. Some patients having narrow angles also need other modalities of treatments namely Laser Iridotomy. Surgery is restorted to in patients with advanced Optic Nerve Damage and in whom adequate pressure control cannot be achieved with maximum tolerated medications.
- Glaucoma cannot be cured, only controlled.
- Vision lost due to glaucoma cannot be re covered.
- Early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes significant visual loss, is the ideal way to control the disease.
- It is essential that persons above the age of 40 have their eyes examined periodically to detect glaucoma early.
- Glaucoma is hereditary. So, if any one in the family has glaucoma, it is advisable that the rest of the family members have their eyes examined, periodically.
- Once diagnosed as having glaucoma, the patient should be committed for lifelong treatment and periodical eye check-up.
- Drugs prescribed should be regularly used at specified time, to ensure round-the-clock pressure control. Medications may cause a few undesired effects. In the event of any adverse effect, the patient must approach the ophthalmologist immediately for alternate treatment.