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Diseases & Conditions

Glaucoma

GlaucomaCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsTreatmentTypes

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an affliction in which the fluid pressure inside the eyeball increases resulting in permanent damage to the optic nerve and the accompanying loss of eyesight However, glaucoma is not always related to this increase in pressure.

Causes of glaucoma

There are various causes for glaucoma:

  • Ocular hypertension or increased fluid pressure inside the eyeball is the commonest cause of most types of glaucomas.
  • The corneal thickness in elderly people tends to be thinner and so they suffer from the resulting hypermetropia. This condition runs a higher risk of incidence of primary open angle glaucoma.
  • Factors such as continued use of steroids can cause steroid-induced glaucoma;
  • Any condition that restricts the flow of blood into the eye rather severely like central vein occlusion and diabetic retinopathy can cause neovascular glaucoma;
  • Ocular trauma causes angle recession glaucoma
  • Uveitis causes uveitic glaucoma.

It has been found that POAG or primary open angle glaucoma is associated with gene mutations at many loci. Several studies indicate that hypertension can play a role in the development of glaucoma while nocturnal hypotension can be the cause of normal tension glaucoma.

Nerve damage can occur to some persons at comparatively low pressures, while others can have high levels of ocular pressure for many years and still develop no neural damage.

Medications for glaucoma

It is possible to bring down the intraocular pressure with medication such as eye drops. There are many different classes of medications in order to treat glaucoma with many different medications in every class. All these medications can have systemic as well as local side effects. If side effects are involved, keeping up with medication protocol might be expensive and confusing. The patient should be ready to tolerate these factors or interact with the treating physician to improve the medication regimen. Lack of sufficient compliance with the treatment regimen as well as follow up visits are an important cause for loss of vision in patients with glaucoma. A recent study of glaucoma patients indicates that 50 per cent of the patients failed to fill the prescriptions initially and 25 per cent did not refill the prescriptions for the second time.

Prevention of glaucoma

Prevention of glaucoma can be accomplished by resorting to the latest methods of glaucoma management to avoid glaucomatous and nerve damage as also sustain visual field and quality of life for the patient with a minimum of side effects. This needs the right diagnostic techniques, follow-up examinations as well as sensible selection of therapies for the glaucoma patient.

Risk factors of glaucoma

The only risk factor of all types of glaucoma is the loss of vision that the patient has to undergo as a result of the grave affliction. So it is wiser for all individuals who are at risk to undergo dilated eye examination at least once -every year. Nearly 1 out of every 200 persons of age 50 and younger and 1 out of 10 above 80 are prone to have glaucoma. If detected in its early stages, it is possible to prevent the onset of glaucoma or arrest the progression with medical and/or surgical means.

Treatment of glaucoma

An increase in intraocular pressure above the level of 2.8 kPa or 21mmHg is a risk factor for the onset of glaucoma and as such should be taken into serious consideration. Since the loss of vision caused by glaucoma is irreversible as well as degenerative, any treatment should begin in the early stages of the ailment. Apart from medication, a wide range of surgical and other kinds of processes are used in the treatment of glaucoma. Laser as well as conventional surgical intervention can be effective to treat several types of glaucoma. Surgery remains the primary therapy for congenital glaucoma. However, these surgical procedures are only a temporary solution because no effective cure has been developed to treat glaucoma.

Types of glaucoma

Glaucoma is of two main types:

  • Open angle glaucoma - Open angle glaucoma which is chronic in nature progresses at a much slower rate so that the patient might not be aware of the fact that they have lost their vision until the condition has advanced significantly.
  • Closed angle glaucoma. Closed angle glaucoma might appear without warning and can be very painful and the ensuing loss of vision might progress rapidly. However, the accompanying discomfort of the process often induces the patients to look for medical aid prior to the occurrence of permanent damage.