GLAUCOMA RELATED QUESTIONS
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, causing permanent vision loss. Most commonly, the damage occurs when your eye’s internal fluid pressure rises too high. The increased pressure is usually due to inadequate drainage of fluid normally produced in your eyes. However, some people can experience optic nerve damage even if their eye pressure is normal.
I have recently heard about glaucoma. Is it a common disease?
Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of irreversible blindness in the world and India has one of the highest numbers of glaucoma patients. Over 40 million of the estimated 309 million population aged 40 years or older in India either have glaucoma or are at risk of developing the disease.
What are the early symptoms of glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms in early glaucoma in the majority of the patients. This makes the disease very dangerous and many patients lose their vision just because of the lack of regular check-ups. That is why it is very important to get yearly eye check-up especially after the age of 40 years. It becomes even more important if you have risk factors for glaucoma.
Some aggressive forms of glaucoma can cause a sudden diminution of vision associated with pain, redness, and colored haloes.
What are the risk factors for developing glaucoma?
The common risk factors for developing glaucoma are:
- Family history of glaucoma
- High refractive error (Myopia/Hypermetropia)
- Age > 40 years
- Morbidities like Diabetes and Hypertension
- History of eye trauma
- Use of steroids in any form (Oral, Inhalational, topical)
My father has glaucoma. How likely am I to get it too?
The Chance that you will get glaucoma if your parent/s have it is still low but more than the general population. Even if you do not have any vision or eye-related problems you should get a yearly eye check-up.
Will I go blind from glaucoma?
If diagnosed at an early stage, glaucoma can often be controlled with little or no further vision loss. If left untreated, the first peripheral vision and then central vision will be affected, and blindness may result.
How is glaucoma detected?
A comprehensive eye examination will include tests for glaucoma. A simple, painless procedure called tonometry measures the internal pressure of your eye. Your doctor will also check the health of the optic nerve and perform a routine examination called gonioscopy if required. Specialized tests like Visual field analysis and optical coherence tomography are also available for detecting glaucoma and follow-up for cases.
How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma treatment includes medications in the form of Eye Drops and tablets (in certain cases), Lasers, and Surgery. The majority of the patients can be managed conservatively with lasers and eye drops. However, in advanced and aggressive cases surgery may be warranted.
I have been told that glaucoma surgery is not successful. Will I lose my vision after glaucoma surgery?
Regrettably, there are many myths and misconceptions associated with glaucoma management in our society. Many types of glaucoma surgeries are now available with excellent results. The cases where surgery is warranted are at a much greater risk of losing vision due to the progression of glaucomatous damage than due to the surgery per se. That being told, any surgery has its own set of risks, and hence, a risk to benefit ratio is always carefully evaluated by the doctor before advising surgery.
Will my vision be restored after treatment?
Unfortunately, any vision loss as a result of glaucoma usually cannot be restored. This is why regular preventive eye examinations are so important. Treatment is usually given to maintain the remaining vision and prevent any further deterioration of vision. Low-vision rehabilitation services, which include the use of specialized optical devices and training, may benefit people with severe vision loss from glaucoma.
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