“A Disease that can rob you of your vision”
Glaucoma is an eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in India and the world over. Loss of vision from glaucoma is Preventable if treated in the early stages of the disease.
It has been estimated that more than half of those affected do not know they have glaucoma as the symptoms like pain, redness, reduced vision do not occur most often.
What is Glaucoma?
Normally, the eye produces a fluid called Aqueous Humor within it. This fluid is drained out or reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Hence a balance is maintained between production and drainage of this fluid, so as to maintain the normal pressure within the eye. This pressure is known as Intra-Ocular pressure. An imbalance between production and drainage of this fluid causes a rise in intraocular pressure. When the intraocular pressure increases, the optic nerve (which is responsible for carrying the visual messages to the brain from the eye) is damaged. Damage to the optic nerve results in loss of vision. This damage to the optic nerve takes place very slowly and most often the person is not at all aware of the visual loss.
There are two common types of glaucoma
Open-Angle Glaucoma, wherein the patient has no redness or pain. Often the person has absolutely no symptoms, which would warn them of an eye problem.This is the commonest type.
Angle-closure glaucoma, the patient can have occasional pain or discomfort, haloes around light, redness of the affected eye and headache.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
Most often, glaucoma is detected during routine and regular eye checkups. Regular eye check-ups are necessary as one may develop glaucoma at any time. The eye pressures are checked in both eyes. If there is any indication/suspicion of glaucoma further tests like Visual Field test (Auto-perimetry), Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) etc. are done. These tests can identify the presence of nerve damage.
Who are at risk?
Anyone can suffer from glaucoma. The risk factors are: –
- Increasing age (more common above 40 years)
- The family history of glaucoma.
- Previous eye injuries.
- People having diabetes.
- long-term steroid intake.
- Thinner central corneal thickness.
How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma may be successfully treated by one or a combination of the following
- Eye Drops
- Surgery may be required in a few Glaucoma Patients.
Glaucoma treatment is a lifelong process and all patients should have a regular follow up once every 6 months-1year.
Is Glaucoma preventable?
No, glaucoma cannot be prevented. But early detection and treatment can reduce the chances of damage to the eye.
Without treatment, people with glaucoma may seem as though they are looking through a tunnel. Over a period of time, the remaining vision may decrease until there is no vision left. HENCE the importance of EARLY DETECTION.
People with family history of glaucoma or presence of other risk factors and people above 40yrs of age should get their eye checked up once every year.
10 Tips for using eye drops
- Wash hands thoroughly before administration
- Tilt head backward or lie down and look upward
- Gently pull down your lower eyelid to make a pouch
- Hold the dropper above the eye and squeeze one drop inside the pouch. Try not to touch your eye, eyelashes, or any surface with the dropper tip
- Look upward and continue to hold the eyelid for a moment while the medication runs in
- Release the lid slowly and close the eye. Blink gently a few times. This helps to spread the drop over the whole eye surface
- Place one finger at the corner of the eye near the nose and apply gentle pressure. This will prevent the medication from draining away from the eye
- Wipe away any liquid that falls onto your cheek with a tissue
- Repeat in the other eye if the drop prescribed is for both eyes
- Close the cap immediately after use
Glaucoma Treatment in Bangalore
Glaucoma is usually controlled with eyedrop medicine. Used every day, these eye drops lower eye pressure. Some do this by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid the eye makes. Others reduce pressure by helping fluid flow better through the drainage angle.
Glaucoma medications can help you keep your vision, but they may also produce side effects. Some eye drops may cause:
- a stinging or itching sensation
- red eyes or red skin around the eyes
- changes in your pulse and heartbeat
- changes in your energy level
- changes in breathing (especially if you have asthma or breathing problems)
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- eyelash growth
- changes in your eye color, the skin around your eyes or eyelid appearance.
All medications can have side effects. Some drugs can cause problems when taken with other medications. It is important to give your doctor a list of every medicine you take regularly. Be sure to talk with your ophthalmologist if you think you may have side effects from glaucoma medicine.
Never change or stop taking your glaucoma medications without talking to your ophthalmologist. If you are about to run out of your medication, ask your ophthalmologist if you should have your prescription refilled.
There are two main types of laser surgery to treat glaucoma. They help aqueous drain from the eye. These procedures are usually done in the ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgery center.
- Trabeculoplasty. This surgery is for people who have open-angle glaucoma. The eye surgeon uses a laser to make the drainage angle work better. That way fluid flows out properly and eye pressure is reduced.
- Iridotomy. This is for people who have angle-closure glaucoma. The ophthalmologist uses a laser to create a tiny hole in the iris. This hole helps fluid flow to the drainage angle.
Operating room surgery
Some glaucoma surgery is done in an operating room. It creates a new drainage channel for the aqueous humor to leave the eye.
- Trabeculectomy: This is where your eye surgeon creates a tiny flap in the sclera (white of your eye). He or she will also create a bubble (like a pocket) in the conjunctiva called a filtration bleb. It is usually hidden under the upper eyelid and cannot be seen. Aqueous humor will be able to drain out of the eye through the flap and into the bleb. In the bleb, the fluid is absorbed by tissue around your eye, lowering eye pressure.
- Glaucoma drainage devices: Your ophthalmologist may implant a tiny drainage tube in your eye. It sends the fluid to a collection area (called a reservoir). Your eye surgeon creates this reservoir beneath the conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and white part of your eye). The fluid is then absorbed into nearby blood vessels.
Your role in glaucoma treatment
Treating glaucoma successfully is a team effort between you and your doctor. Your ophthalmologist will prescribe your glaucoma treatment. It is up to you to follow your doctor’s instructions and use your eye drops.
Once you are taking medications for glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will want to see you regularly. You can expect to visit your ophthalmologist about every 3–6 months. However, this can vary depending on your treatment needs.