Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, And Effective Treatment Approaches

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Do you feel a throbbing pain in your eyes, or pigmented vision frequently? This may be the sign to get your eyes checked. Glaucoma is one of the major reasons for blindness in people today and needs to be treated at early detection. You can mostly see senior adults having this disease, but it is also hereditary and can develop from an early age.

In this blog, we are going to explore the intricacies of glaucoma disease, how it is caused, what are the symptoms that you can look out for, and the treatment options. So, if you are someone who has glaucoma, or know someone who has this disease, then this blog is for you.

Understanding The Origin Of Glaucoma

Medically speaking, glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve because of the build-up of pressure in the eyes. This build-up of pressure is caused when there is too much fluid in the frontal part of the eye, or there is no way of drainage for this fluid. The extra fluid around the front of the eyes or eye puts the optic nerve under pressure.

Types Of Glaucoma

The optic nerve is responsible for sending signals to the brain to create a vision. When this nerve is damaged, it can lead to complete vision loss or irreversible blindness. Glaucoma can affect the eyesight of both the eyes or one more than the other. There are instances where people have glaucoma in both of their eyes.

Types Of Glaucoma

Various types of glaucoma are diagnosed to protect your vision. Some are common, and some are rare, but this disease is lethal to your eyesight.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

As per the National Eye Institute, Open-angle glaucoma or chronic glaucoma is the most common eye disease one can get. This condition occurs when there is a build-up of fluid in the eye’s drainage canal. This puts pressure on the optic nerve and can go unnoticed without any symptoms.

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

Closed-angle glaucoma or acute glaucoma is a rare type of eye disease. It occurs when the gap between the iris and the cornea is too short and the fluids are stuck up in the drainage canal. When your pupils dilate quickly, this fluid puts pressure on the optic nerve and results in headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and throbbing pain in the eye. It is considered an emergency that needs medical attention.

Congenital Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma is found in babies, where the drainage canal is not formed properly in the babies’ eyes. This results in the build-up of fluid and pressure on the optic nerve that may damage the vision of the child. When children show the symptoms of excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, or cloudy eyes, they indicate congenital glaucoma.

Secondary Glaucoma

This disease is a side-effect of diabetes or cataracts which can cause inflammation inside your eye. People suffering from secondary glaucoma tend to see halos in their vision and are sensitive to bright light. Eye tumors, consumption of corticosteroids, or eye surgery can also be the cause of secondary glaucoma.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

This is the type of glaucoma that is not caused by the pressure of build-up fluid in the drainage canal. But it is a result of a lack of blood flow in the optic nerve which causes the damage. Researchers have found that normal tension glaucoma is a form of open-angle glaucoma and causes blind spots in your vision.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

In this condition, a part of the iris enters the fluid of the eye and causes blockage in the drainage. This results in the spreading of color which will affect the optic nerve and cause vision loss. 

Causes Of Glaucoma

Glaucoma can be caused by various factors and tends to develop without any significant symptoms. Look out for the below points and visit the doctor if you face any adversity in vision or eyes.

  • If you have a family history of glaucoma or any other eye complications
  • If you are of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Japanese, Russian, or Irish ethnicities
  • Individuals after the age of 40 are also vulnerable to glaucoma
  • Suffering from myopia or hyperopia
  • Have thinner corneas
  • Suffered from an eye injury or have undergone eye surgery
  • Have consumed medications like Corticosteroids or Prednisone
  • Have sickle cell anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease

Symptoms Of Glaucoma

Apart from vision loss various symptoms point towards glaucoma disease. They are

  • Redness in the eyes
  • Excruciating headache
  • Seeing halos
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Stomach pains
  • Feeling nausea
  • Blurry vision when you try to exercise
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Dilated pupils

Treatment Of Glaucoma

After diagnosing the type of glaucoma, your healthcare provider may use eye drops, oral medicine, or suggest surgery to treat this disease. The main aim of the treatment is to protect your eyes from complete vision loss and subside the symptoms of glaucoma.

Eye Drops are meant to decrease the formation of fluid or clog the pores in the drainage canal. This will help reduce the build-up of fluids and pressure on the optic nerve. Oral medications like beta blockers, topical prostaglandins, or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors help in reducing the pressure in the eyes.

Surgery or laser treatment involves draining the fluid from the drainage canals. Different types of surgeries are conducted when treating various types of glaucomas. It can slow down the vision loss, but cannot restore the lost vision from glaucoma.

Conclusion

Managing glaucoma at an early stage is always recommended because once the vision is gone, there is no coming back. It is important to have routine eye check-ups to avoid any risk for this disease. Maintaining a safe distance from the screen at all times is always good for your eyes and vision.

Since there is no cure for glaucoma, it is better to take care of eye health for any prognosis of the disease. If you have glaucoma, then you need to stick to the schedule of eye drops and medications prescribed by your doctors. So, stick to regular check-ups and keep the glaucoma away!

References

  • Weinreb RN, Aung T, Medeiros FA. The pathophysiology and treatment of glaucoma: a review. JAMA. 2014;311:1901–1911. [PMC free article]
  • Jonas JB, Aung T, Bourne RR, et al. Glaucoma. Lancet. 2017;390:2183–2193. [PubMed]

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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