Glaucoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Glaucoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment | HealthSoul

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. The disease causes a lot of pressure in the eye, which causes the optic nerve to deteriorate. It can affect people of all ages but is more common in the elderly. There are no warning signs, and vision problems can come on gradually. There is no way to restore vision lost due to glaucoma.

Glaucoma Causes

Glaucoma causes the optic nerve to deteriorate, and as it does, dark spots appear in the line of vision. The damage is caused by pressure in the eye, but it is not understood why it occurs. The fluid that normally flows through the eyes builds up and fails to drain. This causes pressure in the eye and eventually causes damage. Glaucoma normally runs in families, and recent research has found that there are certain genes that are connected to pressure in the eyes.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors that may indicate if you’re at risk for developing glaucoma. For starters, the condition typically affects older individuals. However, there are cases of children and infants having the condition. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Ethnicity, especially Irish, African-American, Russian, Japanese, and Hispanic
  • Family history
  • Poor vision
  • Diabetes
  • Taking certain steroid medications
  • Eye trauma

Glaucoma Symptoms

The symptoms of glaucoma can sometimes be hard to notice and normally come on very gradually. By the time a person notices the symptoms, the damage may already be severe. Some people do not experience any symptoms and only learn that they have glaucoma when they are tested for it by their eye doctors. The most common symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Patchy blind spots
  • Tunnel vision
  • Headache
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

Glaucoma Diagnosis

Eye doctors use a variety of different tests to diagnose glaucoma. Glaucoma tests are part of most eye exams and are often given annually. If a patient is more at risk of developing the disease, he or she may be tested more regularly. Everyone should be monitored and tested for glaucoma regularly to ensure quick diagnosis and prompt treatment. The most common ways the disease is diagnosed include:

  • Measuring intraocular pressure
  • Checking for optic nerve damage
  • Visual field test
  • Measuring corneal thickness
  • Checking the drainage angle

Glaucoma Treatment

The damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, and any vision lost cannot be regained. Treatment is usually focused on preventing the disease from worsening. Eye doctors usually check their patients for glaucoma on a yearly basis or more often if they are exhibiting any of the symptoms of the disease. Treatment can also be focused on reducing the pressure in the eyes. The most common treatments include:

  • Eye drops
  • Oral medications
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgery
  • Drainage tubes
  • Electrocautery

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor will recommend a variety of different treatment options, including prescription eye drops, microsurgery, or laser surgery. Eye drops are often used to reduce fluid buildup and alleviate pressure. In more severe cases, laser surgery is used to improve the flow of fluid from your eye.

Microsurgery, also known as trabeculectomy, is a procedure your doctor may perform to create a new path for fluid to drain from your eye. However, the procedure has a tendency to fail and often needs to be redone. It may also result in temporary or permanent loss of vision and has a higher risk of infection than other procedures.

Glaucoma Prognosis

If glaucoma is caught early enough, it can be treated before any damage to the optic nerve occurs. Medications that help reduce fluid and pressure as well as surgery are both effective methods for treating glaucoma. Patients who have already lost some vision as a result of glaucoma will not regain it, and the damage to the optic nerve cannot be repaired. Even those who are managing their glaucoma are likely to go blind in at least one eye within 20 years of being diagnosed with the disease. The sooner the treatment begins, the less damage will occur, and the longer the patient will be able to keep his or her vision.