Glaucoma is a serious eye ailment since it can cause complete vision loss if not diagnosed at an early stage. Understanding what are the causes of glaucoma, its symptoms, and possible treatment is essential to keep this condition at bay especially if you have the genetic disposition to develop it.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma essentially damages your optic nerve. This is the nerve that transmits the images that you see to the brain for processing. If there are no ample medical interventions, glaucoma can cause total loss of vision in just a few years. Early diagnosis is the key. If your family has a history with glaucoma or diabetes, it would be best if you have an annual eye check-up. This way, early signs of glaucoma can be identified immediately and be properly responded to. This will prevent the case from worsening to the point of total blindness later in life.
Types of glaucoma
There are two general types of this illness. The first and more common type is open-angle glaucoma. As the name suggests, the part that drains the fluid in your eye is pretty much open and yet the fluid does not flow the right way. Over time, there is a build-up of fluid until the blockage damages the optic nerve.
The second type is far less common and is more difficult to address. This is the angle-closure glaucoma. As the name suggests, there is closure in the fluid drainage of your eye or it has become too narrow for the fluid to flow freely. Build up of fluid becomes a natural consequence unless properly attended to.
What are the causes of glaucoma?
So what are the causes of glaucoma? As shown by its two types, it really boils down to the build-up of pressure due to the blockage of fluid in the eye. This condition, when not treated, will eventually damage the optic nerve. The problems with fluid drainage in the eye are largely hereditary. This means one can have the genetic disposition to have a damaged eye fluid drainage with little to no control over it. However, there are some cases that might affect the flow of fluid in your eye. These can include the following:
- Inflammation in the eyes caused by severe allergies
- Acute eye infections
- Blocked blood vessels located in the eyes
- Physical or chemical injuries that affect the eyes
This is the part where it gets tricky. Glaucoma does not manifest itself until it becomes a serious case. This is the reason why an annual eye check-up is important especially for people with relatives who have developed this condition. However, there are some telltale signs that a person might be suffering from glaucoma. Might is the operative word because the symptoms listed below are not exclusive to glaucoma alone. It is best to go to an eye doctor if only to rule out if what you are experiencing is glaucoma.
- Loss of vision
- Halos around lights
- Pain in the eye
- Eye redness
- Haziness of eyes
If any of these symptoms are experienced simultaneously, it is time to head to the eye clinic as soon as possible.
The good news here is that if you do get diagnosed with glaucoma, it can be treated. The kind of glaucoma treatment will largely depend on the severity of the case. The key element here is time. If caught at an early stage, intervention will not be as complicated as those that have been diagnosed at an advanced stage. Possible treatment could include:
For simple cases, eye doctors might just prescribe eye drop medication. This could help reduce the build-up of fluid in the eye. This might just become some form of routinary medication like vitamins, for example. You just administer the medication to your eye once or twice a day depending on doctor’s orders and your good to go. However, there might be side effects so you have to check with your doctor as to what medication will best suit your needs and your medical history.
For complicated cases, surgery should be the only option left. The first type is laser surgery. This can target the center part of the eye which manages fluid production (cyclophotocoagulation); provide a small opening in the iris as an alternative route for the fluid to flow (iridotomy), or specifically work on the damaged drainage (trabeculoplasty). A more complicated surgery is known as trabeculectomy. Here, the doctor has to implant a tube in the eye to drain the fluid from it. This can be painful with serious, though temporary, side effects. However, for serious cases, this might be the only option. Check with your doctor regarding possible side effects and pain management.
Knowing what are the causes of glaucoma also answers the questions whether you can prevent it or not. There really is no way to prevent glaucoma. If you have inherited a faulty eye fluid drainage, then there is nothing you can do about it. But it is certainly not all doomsday news. Early diagnosis can spell the difference between a simple medical intervention and a more complicated and possibly painful surgery or even permanent vision loss if not treated. An annual eye check-up is essential to keep this condition from becoming worse.
Glaucoma is definitely not a death sentence. You cannot be complacent either. Now that you know what are the causes of glaucoma, its symptoms, and its treatment, it is high time to schedule regular eye check-up to catch this condition at an early stage. One has to remember that this condition can lead to total vision loss so early diagnosis with proper medical intervention can help you live with glaucoma with little to no problem at all.