Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged.
Pritish Kumar Halder explained that Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness. It’s usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma can lead to loss of vision if it’s not diagnosed and treated early.
It can affect people of all ages but is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s.
Symptoms of glaucoma
Glaucoma does not usually cause any symptoms to begin with.
It tends to develop slowly over many years and affects the edges of your vision first.
For this reason, many people do not realise they have glaucoma, and it’s often only picked up during a routine eye test.
If you do notice any symptoms, they might include blurred vision, or seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights.
Both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in 1 eye.
Very occasionally, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:
- intense eye pain
- nausea and vomiting
- a red eye
- a headache
- tenderness around the eyes
- seeing rings around lights
- blurred vision
Types of glaucoma
There are several different types of glaucoma.
The most common is called primary open angle glaucoma. This tends to develop slowly over many years. It’s caused by the drainage channels in the eye becoming gradually clogged over time.Other types of glaucoma include:
- acute angle closure glaucoma – an uncommon type caused by the drainage in the eye becoming suddenly blocked, which can raise the pressure inside the eye very quickly
- secondary glaucoma – caused by an underlying eye condition, such as inflammation of the eye (uveitis)
- childhood glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) – a rare type that occurs in very young children, caused by an abnormality of the eye
Treatments for glaucoma
It’s not possible to reverse any loss of vision that occurred before glaucoma was diagnosed, but treatment can help stop your vision getting worse. The treatment recommended for you will depend on the type of glaucoma you have, but the options are:
- eyedrops – to reduce the pressure in your eyes
- laser treatment – to open up the blocked drainage tubes or reduce the production of fluid in your eyes
- surgery – to improve the drainage of fluid
You’ll also probably need regular appointments to monitor your condition and check the treatment is working.
Surgery and other therapies
Other treatment options include laser therapy and various surgical procedures. The following techniques are intended to improve the drainage of fluid within the eye, thereby lowering pressure:
Laser therapy. Laser trabeculoplasty (truh-BEK-u-low-plas-tee) is an option if you have open-angle glaucoma. It’s done in your doctor’s office. Your doctor uses a small laser beam to open clogged channels in the trabecular meshwork. It may take a few weeks before the full effect of this procedure becomes apparent.
Filtering surgery. With a surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy (truh-bek-u-LEK-tuh-me), your surgeon creates an opening in the white of the eye (sclera) and removes part of the trabecular meshwork.
Drainage tubes. In this procedure, your eye surgeon inserts a small tube shunt in your eye to drain away excess fluid to lower your eye pressure.
Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). Your doctor may suggest a MIGS procedure to lower your eye pressure. These procedures generally require less immediate postoperative care and have less risk than trabeculectomy or installing a drainage device. They are often combined with cataract surgery. There are a number of MIGS techniques available, and your doctor will discuss which procedure may be right for you.
After your procedure, you’ll need to see your doctor for follow-up exams. And you may eventually need to undergo additional procedures if your eye pressure begins to rise or other changes occur in your eye.
What are the side effects of surgery for glaucoma?
Glaucoma surgery can have side effects, just like any operation. For example, your eye may be swollen and sore for a while. Other possible risks of glaucoma surgery include:
- Problems with the cornea (the clear front layer of your eye)
- Eye pressure that’s too low
- Vision loss
Talk over the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor. Together, you can make a treatment plan that’s right for you.