Glaucoma

November 12, 2012

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the loss of vision that occurs due to the damage of the optic nerve, which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. It is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States.

Symptoms

There are three basic types of Glaucoma:

The open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is the most common form of glaucoma in United States and United Kingdom. It is characterized by slow damage of the optic nerve that results in gradual loss of vision. Open-angle glaucoma symptoms may involve one or both eyes. You may also notice changes in your vision.

Angle-closure glaucoma (ACG) is relatively rare, and occurs in about 10 percent of all glaucoma cases in the United States. The symptoms occur due to the accumulation of fluid between the chambers of the eye. This blocks the colored part of the lens and creates pressure around the iris of the eye. This can lead to pain and redness, usually in the first one eye, sudden blurred vision, nausea and vomiting.

Congenital glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma that occurs from birth. Babies with this condition are sensitive to light and experience excessive tearing and cloudy eyes. Symptoms may not develop until 6 months to 1 year after birth. Early detection and treatment can prevent severe vision loss and blindness. Children between the ages of 3 years and young adults may also develop similar glaucoma symptoms called juvenile glaucoma.

If left untreated, the vision loss associated with glaucoma can lead to total vision loss.

Causes

Glaucoma symptoms are caused by increased eye pressure and the optic nerve damage associated with it. The increase in the eye pressure occurs due to the accumulation of fluid known as aqueous humor in the eye. The increased eye pressure also causes reduced blood flow to the eye. Glaucoma symptoms usually develop as a result of eye injury, eye surgery, ocular tumors and diabetes. Certain steroids used to treat ocular inflammation can also lead to glaucoma. Glaucoma that develops as a consequence of other medical conditions is known as secondary glaucoma.

Diagnosis

Apart from a thorough examination of the eye, and analysis of your family history, your doctor may also order tests such as tonometry, visual acuity measurement and slit lamp examination to confirm the diagnosis of glaucoma.

Treatment

Treatment of your glaucoma symptoms depend on the severity of the condition. Most treatment methods aim to reduce the intraocular pressure, thereby relieving the stress associated with enhanced fluid levels in your eye. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops or intravenous medications to relieve the blood pressure. Laser therapy or eye surgery may be recommended to treat severe cases.

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