How to Protect Your Eyes from Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disease that, if left undetected, can result in complete vision loss. It¶simportant to know the ins and outs of the disease to be sure that you can protect yourself andyour family.Damage to the optic nerve of the eye is known as ³Glaucoma´ and this eye disease serves asthe leading cause of blindness in the United States today. What causes this condition?Usually increased pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP).Ok - let¶s take a step back and explain this life-changing disease in full.Basically, our eyes contain a certain amount of fluid. When and if this fluid pressure rises, itcauses pressure on to the eye¶s optic nerve - damaging it, which is responsible for sendingvisual messages from the eyes to the brain. The pressure is known as intraocular pressure(IOP).The scariest part of the disease is that it rarely carries symptoms to start with and will only bediscovered through a comprehensive eye exam. Therefore, today, experts recommend thatcertain risk groups should have their eyes thoroughly checked out very two years, in order tocatch this disease early and thereby avoid vision loss. Those groups include AfricanAmericans over age 40; people over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people witha family history of glaucoma.
How is glaucoma tested?
The doctor looks right inside the eye, through the pupil. There arenumerous glaucoma tests, namely: Gonioscopy (use of a special lens to see the outflowchannels of the angle); Tonometry (test to measure eye pressure); Optic nerve imaging(photographs of the inside of the eye); Pupillary reflex response; Retinal examination; Slitlamp examination; Visual acuity; Visual field measurement. Your doctor will explain them toyou in detail.If caught early, treatment of glaucoma can be very effective; the main goal, however, is toreduce the eye pressure. The type of glaucoma you have will invariably decide on whether you will be treated with medication or surgery. All in all, there are four major types, namely:angle-closure (acute) glaucoma; congenital glaucoma; secondary glaucoma; and open-angle(chronic) glaucoma.Angle-closure (acute) glaucoma is an emergency! Usually it is very sudden and if not treatedquickly, people become blind within a few days. Symptoms can be anything from sudden,severe pain in one eye, decreased or cloudy vision, nausea and vomiting, rainbow-like halosaround lights, red eye, swollen eyes. Treatment involves drops, pills, and medicine giventhrough by IV. In worse cases, people may need an emergency operation, known as aniridotomy. The only way to save your vision with this version of glaucoma is quick diagnosisand treatment. You will then need regular follow-up with your doctor.Congenital glaucoma is hereditary and usually people are born with it and you will usuallynotice this when your child is just a few months old. Signs to watch out for include cloudinessof the front of the eye, enlargement of one eye or both eyes, red eye, sensitivity to light andtearing.In almost all cases, this is treated with surgery while the patient is under generalanesthetic. If diagnosed and treated early on, patients will usually have no future problemsand will only need check-ups every so often.