Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide which includes around 12 million Indians. The proverb “ A Stitch in time saves nine”goes well with Glaucoma as if it is not treated in the earlier stage can lead to permanent blindness.The sight loss caused by glaucoma is progressive and irreversible, unlike cataract. Early treatment and diagnosis can prevent blindness.
WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is a group of progressive disorders of the optic nerve. Optic nerve , which connects eye to the brain gets weakened slowly due to multiple factors, intraocular pressure(IOP) being the most important and only modifiable factor.
THE EFFECTS OF GLAUCOMA
Glaucoma can lead to
- Decrease in the field of vision leading to permanent loss of vision.
- Starts from peripheral field and progresses forward affecting the central vision.
- In the case of Glaucoma the major damage is caused when the central visual acuity is affected which unfortunately happens in the advanced stage .
The types of glaucoma
Primarily there are three types
Primary open angle glaucoma
Angle closure glaucoma
Primary open angle glaucoma stands out to be the most common type compromising of 80-90% cases as it is a slowly progressive disease.
The risk factors of Glaucoma-
Depending on age( after 40 years)
Hereditary(if any of your family member is suffering from Glaucoma)
Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart diseases.
Any history of trauma caused to the eye.
Long term steroid usage (in the form of tablets, skin ointments, inhalers, eye drops).
Identification of Glaucoma-
We can say that this disease is a close mouthed disease. As in majority patients with glaucoma do not have any symptoms. It is a hushed disease that cannot be detected or felt by the patient since central vision remains unaffected till the late stages of the disease. It is usually detected in early stage during a routine eye check up.
AN EYE CHECKUP A YEAR KEEPS A PERSON HEALTHY-
People above 40 years should compulsively undergo a detailed eye check up at least once a year with an ophthalmologist and not just the checkup for your spectacles. And not to forget those who already are suffering from any eye disease they should try to avoid risk by undergoing regular checkup.
Tests needs to be underwent for Glaucoma -
Early diagnosis and treatment proves to be a boon in glaucoma. If the ophthalmologist or glaucoma specialist has any suspicion of glaucoma in you, then you will be subjected to the following tests:
1.Visual acuity (usually done for all patients)
2.Tonometry (to measure pressure in the eye)
4.Pachymetry (to measure corneal thickness)
5.Ophthalmoscopy (to examine optic nerve head, which is affected in glaucoma)
6.Perimetry (Field of vision)- This is the most important and only functional test for glaucoma diagnosis and monitoring progression
The treatment to be undergone-
Intraocular pressure is the only modifiable factor in glaucoma, so all options are aimed at decreasing the eye pressure. Treatment of glaucoma is lifelong. So the treating doctor decides on multiple factors along with patient factors, which treatment option should be given to the patient so that he/she gets treated well with benefit.
Options available are medical management in the form of drops, lasers and surgical management. Surgical management is usually needed when eye pressure is not getting controlled with eye drops or if the disease is progressing in spite of pressure control. But patient should keep in mind that the surgical procedure is also for decreasing pressure on the eye, it cannot reverse whatever damage has occurred already.
Myths about glaucoma-
1.Myth- Glaucoma affects only adults and not the young generation
Fact- Glaucoma can affect anybody from babies to adults.
2.Myth- Glaucoma is curable
Fact- It does not get cured. It causes slow damage and leads to blindness eventually. Rather glaucoma is treatable, if diagnosed early progression can be slowed down and permanent blindness can be avoided.
3.Myth- It causes slow damage and leads to blindness eventually.
Fact- Rather glaucoma is treatable, if diagnosed early progression can be slowed down and permanent blindness can be avoided.