Glaucoma - Symptoms & Treatment
Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve is damaged. In the worst cases, the damage can lead to blindness, but this need not happen if glaucoma is detected and treated early.
Glaucoma occurs in several forms: chronic open-angle (primary), acute angie-closure, low tension (normal lOP that is too high for a particular person), congenital (inherited as an autosomal recessive trait), and secondary to other causes.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma affects an estimated 3 million Americans, with 120,000 blind due to the condition. Elsewhere in the world, glaucoma treatment is less available, and glaucoma ranks as a leading cause of blindness just about everywhere. Even if people with glaucoma do not become blind, vision can be severely impaired.
The cause of glaucoma varies according to the type of disorder:
Signs and symptoms
Most people with glaucoma don't have any symptoms of the disease. You might not realize that you're losing vision until it's too late. Half of all people with loss of vision caused by glaucoma are not aware they have the disease. By the time they notice loss of vision, the eye damage is severe.
Rarely, an individual will have an acute attack of glaucoma. In these cases, the eye becomes red and extremely painful. Also, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision may occur.
Loss of peripheral visual field, cupping of the optical disk, and increased lOP are the triad of signs that indicate glaucoma. Relevant diagnostic tests include the following:
Glaucoma may be successfully treated by medication, surgery, or both. Treatment depends on the type of glaucoma and its severity, and the underlying medical conditions, age, and health of the patient. Patients must work with their doctors to find the most effective treatment.
Glaucoma medications are either oral or topical. There are five types of topical medications that achieve these purposes:
The most common type of oral medication are Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors, which include Daranide®, Diamox®, and Neptazane®.
Argon Laser trabeculoplasty :- In argon laser trabeculoplasty, an argon laser beam is focused on the trabecular meshwork of an open angle. This produces a thermal burn that changes the surface of the meshwork and increases the outflow of aqueous humor.
Laser peripheral iridotomy is often used to treat angle-closure glaucoma. The laser creates a small hole in the iris, allowing the aqueous to flow more freely within the eye.
Sometimes all the above treatments do not allow control of the pressure and therefore a trabeculectomy (as outlined above in primary open angle glaucoma) may be required.
There is no way to prevent open angle glaucoma, but vision loss from open angle glaucoma can be prevented. Early diagnosis and careful management of the condition, if diagnosed, are the keys to preventing vision loss.
Most people with open angle glaucoma have no symptoms. All persons over 40 should have an eye examination at least every 5 years, and more often if in a high-risk group. Those in high-risk groups include people with a family history of open angle glaucoma and people of African heritage.
People at high risk for acute glaucoma may opt to undergo iridotomy before having an attack. Patients who have had an acute episode in the past may undergo the procedure to prevent recurrence.
Eating vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, taking a vitamin supplement, protecting eyes from injury, and getting medical treatment for systemic illnesses promote good eye health.
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