glaucoma

World glaucoma week will be celebrated this year from the 9th to 14th of March; it is a joint international initiative of the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patients Association, to raise awareness of glaucoma. This year’s theme is “Beat invisible Glaucoma”. In order to preserve your sight you must be educated about the facts surrounding glaucoma and how it can be treated.

Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can potentially steal your vision. Often Glaucoma is asymptomatic and can suddenly result in vision loss and eventually blindness if not treated properly. Usually there is a clear fluid in your eyes called intraocular fluid that is continually produced and needs to continually be drained from the eye, to allow your eye pressure to remain normal and allow your eyes to work properly. However in some cases your eye drainage system becomes clogged and the fluid cannot be drained as it should. This causes your eye pressure to become very high which can in turn damage your optic nerves and gradually lead to blindness. Your peripheral or side vision is usually first affected and over time you can lose your central or direct vision also.

We are all at risk to develop glaucoma but the following groups are at a higher risk:
Persons over 40 years old, people of African descent, persons with myopia, people of Asian descent, persons with thin central cornea, Hispanics in older age groups, persons who use steroids and persons who have a family history of glaucoma.

There are various types of glaucoma that can affect you, however the two main types are: open angle and angle-closure glaucoma. Open Angle is the most common form and is responsible for at least 90% of all cases reported. It is caused when drainage canals slowly clog, thereby increasing your eye pressure. This condition is irreversible and lifelong and often has no noticeable signs or symptoms. However, regular eye examinations which would allow for early detection can allow you to successfully treat and control the disease.

The other main form of glaucoma is angle- closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma and is a very rare form. It is characterized by the blockage of drainage canals and the sudden rise in eye pressure. It develops very quickly and comes with noticeable symptoms that require immediate medical attention to prevent complete, irreversible blindness. This form is usually signaled by your eyes turning red, headaches, intense eye pain, nausea, blurred vision and seeing rainbows around lights at night. This type of glaucoma requires surgery to treat the problem and it will be helpful once immediate attention is given.

Other types of glaucoma are: secondary, pigmentary, normal-tension, congenital, exfoliative, neovascular, uveitic and traumatic glaucoma.

Glaucoma is typically treated by using medications that work to decrease the amount of fluid made by the eye or help to better drain the fluid in your eyes. This would serve to control your eye pressure and by carefully and correctly following your doctor’s instructions these medication will prevent your glaucoma from getting worse. Laser or conventional surgery can also be used to treat the more severe form of glaucoma. Counseling is also available to patients to help them achieve a better understanding of the disease and how to manage it.

In order to preserve your sight and beat glaucoma before the silent thief of sight snatches yours away, consult an ophthalmologist regularly as glaucoma usually comes with no signs. Remember regular checkups and controlled treatment can allow you to see for many years to come.

For more information please see www.wgweek.net or please contact Dr. Benet Henry, Consultant Ophthalmologist, at optipharminc@gmail.com.