Glaucoma is one of the more common forms of eye disease
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.
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.
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.