What you need to know Glaucoma?

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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which eye’s optic nerve gets damaged, resulting in loss of vision. However, with early diagnosis and treatment you can prevent complete loss of vision.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the result of high fluid pressure inside your eye. Front part of the eye is called anterior chamber. A transparent fluid flows continuously in and out of the anterior chamber and nourishes eye tissues. If fluid is unable to flow as it should, it leads to increased Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP) resulting in permanent damage to optic nerve. That’s why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.

You might be wondering that increased IOP will always lead to Glaucoma. Not necessarily. Someone may have a higher threshold for tolerating higher IOP that others. The other question lingering your mind might be whether all Glaucoma are associated with increased IOP. No either. One can develop Glaucoma without increased Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP). This type of glaucoma is called low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma.

Then how will I know if I am at risk of Glaucoma?
You can be at risk of Glaucoma if you

  • Are over 40 year of age
  • Are of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have poor vision
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain steroid medications, like prednisone
  • Have had trauma to the eye or eyes
  • How do I know if I am having Glaucoma?

To start with, Glaucoma has no symptoms, no pain. Initially vision stays normal. It can develop in one or both eyes. Without treatment, patient will slowly lose his/her peripheral vision. If neglected patient may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of eye. It feels like you are looking through a tunnel. As time passes by, central vision may decrease until no vision remains.

Seek immediate help of Ophthalmologist if you have any of following

  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in the eye
  • Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye pain
  • Narrowed vision (tunnel vision)

How will Ophthalmologist confirm Glaucoma?
Your Ophthalmologist may suspect Glaucoma during examination and from your symptoms. Adults over 40 years of age should also be screened for Glaucoma. Tests for Glaucoma are simple, painless and do not take more time.
Visual acuity test to measure your ability to see at various distances
Visual field test to measure your peripheral vision.
Retinoscopy is done after dilating your pupils by drops. It helps to check your optic nerve and retina by an instrument called Retinoscope. If you have changes in optic nerve, Ophthalmologist may take photographs of the nerve to help him track your disease over time.

Tonometry is measuring Intra-Ocular Pressure by an instrument called tonometer.

Since the damage to optic nerve and vision loss in Glaucoma is irreversible, it is important to identify Glaucoma at an early stage and intervene earlier to prevent complete vision loss. Initially you may not notice any symptoms, hence you should have routine eye checkup if you are over 40 years of age, have diabetes, taking steroids or have poor vision.  High blood pressure is an another important factor damaging optic nerve, so get your eyes checked routinely if you are hypertensive.

Now that you know what Glaucoma is, how to identify Glaucoma and when to visit Ophthalmologists, we will learn about different types of Glaucoma in next blog.

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