When the optic nerve is gradually damaged by the eye illness glaucoma, visual loss results. For vision loss to be minimized or avoided, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.
Despite the fact that anyone can get glaucoma, the risk rises with age. The primary cause of blindness in New Zealand is glaucoma, which affects about 2% of people over the age of 40 and more than 10% of people who are 80 years or older.
The optic nerve is harmed by a collection of connected eye disorders known as glaucoma. The fragile optic nerve, which is found at the back of the eye, carries visual signals from the eye to the brain. Loss of vision or even total blindness can result from injury to or damage to the optic nerve. Because peripheral or side vision is typically the first to be affected, the loss of vision is typically gradual and may not be apparent right away.
Glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss, so it is essential that it be identified and treated as soon as possible. Glaucoma will eventually lead to progressive visual loss if untreated, typically in these stages:
You can see blind areas in your surroundings.
Tunnel vision, or a loss of peripheral vision
Glaucoma is distinct from cataracts, which cause vision loss because the eye’s lens becomes clouded, and macular degeneration, which is marked by a progressive loss of central (straight-ahead) vision.
It’s critical to be aware of the risk factors for glaucoma because some types of the disease can cause visual loss without any outward signs or symptoms.
Higher than normal ocular pressure that can only be identified by examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist
Age, especially for those over 60 years old.
Ethnic background: Some forms of glaucoma are more common in people of African and Asian heritage.
Familial Glaucoma History
Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or hypothyroidism are examples of medical conditions.
Other diseases include migraines, extreme near- or far-sightedness, eye trauma, or certain forms of eye surgery.
Corticosteroid use for a long period of time, particularly for eye drops.
In most cases, but not always, optic nerve injury is related to abnormally high intraocular pressure. When the eye’s fluid drainage mechanism is ineffective, the pressure inside the eye rises. Acute glaucoma develops suddenly, but chronic glaucoma develops gradually.
Blockage of the drainage canals in the eye happens progressively in chronic glaucoma. It is the most typical and painless variation.
Blockage in the eye’s drainage canals occurs quickly in acute glaucoma. If it is not treated right away, it might cause permanent visual loss.
Glaucoma comes in a variety of forms with a variety of traits and causes. A few of these are:
Primary open-angle glaucoma: When the drainage system of the eye is partially blocked, fluid drains out of the eye too slowly, gradually raising eye pressure.
Angle-closure glaucoma is brought on when the iris enlarges and obstructs the drainage system, preventing fluid from draining properly and raising intraocular pressure.
The optic nerve is injured even when the pressure inside the eye is normal in normal-tension glaucoma. The cause is unknown, however it might be because the optic nerve isn’t getting enough blood flow.
Developmental glaucoma, which typically has no symptoms in new-born’s and children,
Pigment granules accumulate in the eye and obstruct drainage pathways in pigmentary glaucoma.
As a rule, glaucoma runs in families. Recent research has identified a variety of genetic variants in human DNA that individually slightly affect intraocular pressure and can, with 75% accuracy, predict who will develop glaucoma.
Symptoms and Signs
The symptoms of the two most prevalent glaucoma varieties vary.
First-degree open-angle glaucoma:
Loss of peripheral vision often occurs gradually in both eyes and is characterized by the emergence of patchy blind spots.
Tunnel vision is a feature of advanced phases.
Angle-closure glaucoma that is acute
Eye pain that could come with nausea and vomiting
Emergence of a visual disturbance suddenly
Lights are surrounded by halos, sometimes known as crowns or auras.
Increasing ocular redness
A Terrible Headache.
Prior to irreparable damage being done, primary open-angle glaucoma has little symptoms. To identify glaucoma early enough to successfully treat it and stop further progression, routine eye exams are crucial.
Glaucoma treatment simply serves to stop additional vision loss; it does not restore lost vision. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure by either increasing fluid drainage from the eye or decreasing fluid production in the eye. Acute angle-closure glaucoma need immediate medical attention, typically including both medication and surgery.
Medicated eye drops are usually the first course of treatment. Prostaglandins, beta-blockers, alpha-adrenergic agonists, and cholinergic drugs are frequently administered eye drops. Medicated eye drops must be applied exactly as directed in order to avoid making optic nerve damage worse. If eye drops alone are unable to reduce intraocular pressure to the required level, an oral drug, typically a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, may be recommended.
If medicine does not relieve the symptoms of glaucoma or is not well tolerated, surgery may be necessary. Surgical procedures for glaucoma include:
In order to unblock obstructions in the eye’s drainage canals, laser surgery is employed in a treatment termed laser trabeculoplasty. Creating a hole in the drainage system to get around blocked drainage channels is a treatment known as a trabeculectomy.
In order to enhance fluid drainage, a tiny tube is put into the eye during the process known as drainage implants. A small tube is inserted into the drainage area of the eye during minimally invasive glaucoma surgery to permanently open a drainage aperture.