Se­ri­ous eye dis­ease can af­fect any­one and ev­ery­one

Whitsunday Times - - LOOK GOOD FEEL GOOD -

GLAU­COMA is a se­ri­ous eye dis­ease in which the op­tic nerve fi­bres that join the eye to the brain are dam­aged, caus­ing pos­si­ble vi­sion loss.

This is typ­i­cally the re­sult of in­creased pres­sure within the eye, but not al­ways.

Raised pres­sure can dam­age parts of the eye and may cause blind­ness if not treated.

Glau­coma is the sec­ond-largest cause of blind­ness and there are two main types: open an­gle and closed an­gle.

Open an­gle glau­coma is twice as com­mon as closed an­gle glau­coma, but its rate of blind­ness is lower.

Risk fac­tors

The big­gest risk fac­tor for glau­coma is age, with the largest pro­por­tion of suf­fer­ers older than 40 years of age.

Another im­por­tant fac­tor is a close fam­ily history of glau­coma. The av­er­age in­ci­dence of 2% for those above 40 rises to 18% for those with a blood rel­a­tive who has the dis­ease.

Other risk fac­tors in­clude di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure, short-sight­ed­ness, eye in­jury and use of cor­ti­sone drugs.

There are also ge­netic and eth­nic dif­fer­ences, with closed an­gle glau­coma five times more com­mon in Asian peo­ple and open an­gle glau­coma four times more com­mon in African pop­u­la­tions, com­pared to Euro­peans.

Symp­toms

Many times the symp­toms are not no­tice­able un­til dam- age to the eye has al­ready oc­curred. In other cases, peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence headaches or foggy cir­cles around lights at night called “haloes”.

As dam­age pro­gresses, the pe­riph­eral vi­sion is lost first. This is not no­ticed un­til a large part of vi­sion has been de­stroyed, lead­ing to an ef­fect known as “tun­nel vi­sion”.

The cen­tral vi­sion is rarely lost com­pletely.

Di­ag­no­sis

Di­ag­no­sis con­sists of hav- ing reg­u­lar eye ex­am­i­na­tions that in­clude a pres­sure mea­sure­ment (tonom­e­try) and vis­ual field as­sess­ment to en­able early de­tec­tion.

The pres­sure mea­sure­ment may be dis­torted by the thick­ness of the cornea, which can be al­lowed for with a mea­sure­ment called pachymetry.

Eye ex­am­i­na­tions should take place ev­ery two years for pa­tients older than 40.

Treat­ment

The dam­age caused by glau- coma is ir­re­versible and treat­ment can­not re­cover what has al­ready been lost.

Treat­ment con­sists of try­ing to pre­vent fu­ture dam­age, usu­ally with drops to con­trol the pres­sure by re­duc­ing the in­flow or in­creas­ing the out­flow of fluid in­side the eye.

In ad­vanced cases, laser surgery to in­crease the out­flow drainage may be needed.

For more, visit Eye­care Plus at the Whit­sun­day Shop­ping Cen­tre or phone 4946 6730.

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