Vision is one of mankind’s most valued senses. Unfortunately, for many it’s susceptible to extremely degenerative conditions. The eyesight influences the way in which people view the world. No camera is a match for the tasks that our eyes are able to perform on a daily basis: they are able to distinguish between light and dark, they can perceive colours, recognise spatial contrasts and adapt effortlessly and at lightning speed to any distance and all light conditions.
Eyesight is something so natural that we take it for granted. However, numerous tests and investigations have shown that many people suffer from deficient visual acuity. They have poor eyesight – without even knowing it.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness.
There are different types of glaucoma, all of which are associated with damage to the optic nerve, which is usually but not always related to high eye pressure.
The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.
Who Gets Glaucoma?
Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 40, but if you are between the age of 20 and 64 years, you should have your eyes checked every one or two years.
You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you:
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have poor vision
- Have diabetes
- Take certain steroid medications, such as prednisone
- Have had trauma to the eye or eyes
Cause of Glaucoma
- Failure of the eye to maintain an appropriate balance between the amount of internal (intraocular) fluid produced and the amount that drains away.
- Poor Blood Flow
- Optic Nerve Damage
Glaucoma often is called the “Silent thief of sight“. There are typically no early warning signs or symptoms of glaucoma. It develops slowly and sometimes without noticeable sight loss for many years. Detecting glaucoma early is one reason you should have a complete exam with an eye specialist every one to two years.
If you have any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:
- Seeing halos around lights
- Blurred vision
- Redness in the eye
- Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden eye pain
- Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
To diagnose glaucoma, an eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes through dilated pupils. The only sure way to diagnose glaucoma is with a complete eye exam. A glaucoma screening that only checks eye pressure is not enough to find glaucoma.
- Measure the pressure in your eye (tonometry)
- Inspect your eye’s drainage angle (gonioscopy)
- Inspect your optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy)
- Test your side, or peripheral, vision (visual field test)
- Measure the thickness of your cornea — the clear window at the front of the eye (pachymetry)
- Glaucoma can be treated with the following:
- Eye drops
- laser surgery
- Traditional surgery or a combination of these methods.
The goal of any treatment is to prevent loss of vision, as vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. The good news is that glaucoma can be managed if detected early, and that with medical and/or surgical treatment, most people with glaucoma will not lose their sight. Because glaucoma often is painless, people may become careless about strict use of eye drops that can control eye pressure and help prevent permanent eye damage.