What Is Glaucoma? Causes and Symptoms

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve. Without treatment, glaucoma can progress to permanent, irreversible vision loss.

Causes of Glaucoma

There are different types of glaucoma. Most occur when pressure in the eye (intraocular) increases, damaging the optic nerve but sometimes optic nerve damage can occur even when intraocular pressure is normal.

glaucoma causeOther types of glaucoma are rare and are caused by abnormal eye development, drugs, eye infections or inflammatory conditions, interruption of blood supply to the eye, systemic diseases and trauma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is sometimes referred to as the "silent thief of sight" because the only symptom is a gradual loss of vision which most do not notice. When symptoms are present they may include:

Sudden severe eye/brow pain or headache
Nausea and vomiting
Blurred vision
Halos around lights
Sudden loss of sight
Eye redness

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Glaucoma Risk Factors

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some individuals are considered higher risk. Risk factors include:

Being age 60 and above
A family history of glaucoma
African American, Hispanic or Asian Heritage
Nearsightedness
Migraines or Raynaud's Phenomenon
Oral contraceptive medications
Sleep apnea
Long-term corticosteroid medication use
Medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
Glaucoma Diagnosis

Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye doctor. Those at high risk should schedule a thorough eye exam at an ophthalmology clinic every three to four months.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to preserving vision. Routine vision screenings performed by your ophthalmologist can help identify glaucoma before extensive damage occurs.

The three main treatment options for glaucoma, include:

Eye drops
Laser treatment
Surgery
Medications for Glaucoma

Most medications for glaucoma are administered in the form of eye drops. Less commonly, pills may be prescribed as a temporary measure. There are a variety of medications used in the treatment of glaucoma and most work either by decreasing the amount of fluid produced by the eye or improving drainage of eye fluid.

Laser Treatment of Glaucoma

During laser surgery for glaucoma, low-energy beams of light are aimed at the drainage channels of the eye to allow for better outflow, thereby, lowering the intraocular pressure. These procedures are performed in your eye surgeon's office or at an outpatient surgery center. Usually eye drops will still be required following laser surgery.

Surgical Treatment of Glaucoma

Surgery for glaucoma may be recommended when eye drops and laser procedures fail to adequately reduce eye pressure. Some surgical techniques used to improve the eye's drainage include the placement of shunts, stents, or using your own tissue to make a new drain.

Lifelong Glaucoma Treatment

Individuals with glaucoma require ongoing, lifelong treatment to prevent blindness. Medications should be taken regularly and precisely as your eye doctor has prescribed. Frequent eye screenings (every three to four months) are also needed to monitor eye pressure and to evaluate the effectiveness of glaucoma treatment.

If you are looking for a Glaucoma surgeon in Kenya, please visit us: Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital to be examined by our specialised Doctors or You can reach us on 020 422 6000 or 0728 970 601 or Email: e-marketing@lionsloresho.org

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