Glau­coma is one of the more com­mon forms of eye dis­ease

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

Glau­coma af­fects mil­lions of peo­ple, mak­ing it one of the more com­mon forms of eye dis­ease.

But glau­coma is not just one ail­ment; it in­cludes a group of eye con­di­tions that are a re­sult of dam­age to the op­tic nerve thus caus­ing vi­sion loss. While un­usu­ally high pres­sure in­side your eye (known as in­traoc­u­lar pres­sure – IOP) is of­ten the cause, this may not al­ways be the case.

It is one of the lead­ing causes of vi­sion loss in North Amer­ica, and left un­treated can re­sult in blind­ness.

The two most com­mon types of glau­coma are pri­mary open-an­gle glau­coma and closed an­gle glau­coma. Fluid in the eye flows through and area be­tween the iris and the cornea and drains through the tra­bec­u­lar mesh­work – this area is the “an­gle.”

Of­ten call the “silent thief of sight,” open an­gle glau­coma, which af­fects 90 per cent of those di­ag­nosed, is not in­di­cated by eye pain. There is a grad­ual loss of pe­riph­eral vi­son, gen­er­ally in both eyes, and in the ad­vanced stages there is tun­nel vi­sion.

The symp­toms of closed an­gle glau­coma are eas­ier to rec­og­nize and in­clude eye pain, blurred vi­sion, nau­sea and vom­it­ing, vi­sion is­sues in low light, ha­los around light sources and red eyes.

Treat­ment op­tions

Eye­drops are a com­mon treat­ment op­tions and may in­clude more than one type. The im­por­tance here is to let your doc­tor know your com­plete med­i­cal his­tory and com­ply com­pletely with your doc­tor’s in­struc­tions to get the de­sired re­sult. All in­clude side ef­fects and your med­i­cal his­tory will al­low your doc­tor to se­lect the safest op­tion.

Oral med­i­ca­tions, such as car­bonic an­hy­drase in­hibitors, will be used if the eye drops can­not bring your eye pres­sure down on their own.

Surgery is an op­tion if the med­i­ca­tions or don’t work or you can’t tol­er­ate them. In some cases you may need to con­tinue us­ing eye­drops.

Risk fac­tors

Age – you are six times more likely to get glau­coma if you are over 60.

Fam­ily his­tory – you are four to nine times more likely to get open an­gle glau­coma if some­one else in your fam­ily has it.

Eth­nic­ity – it plays a big fac­tor in be­ing di­ag­nosed with glau­coma.

Steroid use – long-term use in­creases the risk by as much 40 per cent.

Med­i­cal con­di­tions – such as di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure and hy­pothy­roidism.

Other eye con­di­tions – blunt in­juries that “bruise” the eye (most com­monly sports-re­lated), reti­nal de­tach­ment and eye tu­mors, eye in­flam­ma­tion and cer­tain eye surg­eries are ex­am­ples that in­crease the risk.

You can work to pre­vent, or at least lessen the ef­fects of glau­coma on your vi­sion by get­ting reg­u­lar com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­ams.

Use any eye drops pre­scribed by your doc­tor to treat eye pres­sure ac­cord­ing to their in­struc­tions, eat a healthy diet and wear eye pro­tec­tion to pre­vent eye in­jury.

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