Glaucoma is the main source of permanent visual blindness around the world, and the second leading cause for permanent visual blindness in India. Almost three million individuals in India have glaucoma, and the number is expected to increase to 6.3 million in the following 30 years. In spite of the fact that glaucoma is more common in adults ageing 60 and above, it can happen at any stage in life. At present there is no definite cure for glaucoma, vision loss can be slowed down or stopped if the disease is diagnosed timely and treated early.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of disorders that harm the optic nerve of the eye, which conveys visual signs from the retina to the cerebrum, permitting us to see. In glaucoma, the optic nerve is gradually impaired, causing progressive loss of vision and eventually permanent vision loss. Since the damage happens gradually it usually goes unrecognised until it is too late. As it advances, glaucoma can prompt to decreased quality of life, trouble with driving, increased risks of falls and diminished mobility.
Glaucoma is often linked to increased pressure in the eye. Healthy eyes produce a fluid known as aqueous, which courses through and exits the eye. In glaucoma, this cycle is disrupted, bringing about increased pressure in the eye which in turn causes harm to the optic nerve. The two main varieties of glaucoma — open-angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma — are determined by the structure of the drainage pathway in the front of the eye (known as the angle), through which aqueous fluid outflows.
In open-angle glaucoma, the angle seems open, however various elements — including drainage issues —results in poor pressure regulation. In this type of glaucoma optic nerve damage can happen at both high and normal eye pressures (normal tension glaucoma). Both subtypes can lead in vision loss and optic nerve damage.
In angle-closure glaucoma the angle is narrow, and the subsequent underlying issues can cause an abrupt closure of the drainage pathway, leading to high eye pressures. This condition is known as acute angle closure. Although uncommon, acute angle-closure glaucoma is an ophthalmological emergency, and requires immediate treatment with proper medication, laser, or surgery, as it can cause higher amount of optic nerve damage and can cause irreversible vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma also exists in a chronic form where the increase in eye pressure occurs more slowly, often without symptoms, but still requires evaluation and treatment.
Who is at Risk of Developing Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a perplexing disease, and while many associated genes have been identified, many underlying causes are still unclear.
However, a number of important risk factors have been identified, which include
- Age older than 60
- A first-degree relative with glaucoma
- East and Southeast Asian descent (for angle-closure glaucoma)
- History of eye trauma or multiple eye surgeries
- Chronic eye conditions, such as diabetic eye disease
- Highly near-sighted or far-sightedness •Use of steroid medications
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
The population with glaucoma, especially those with open-angle glaucoma or normal-tension glaucoma, may have no or very minimal symptoms for quite a long time. It is shocking but half of the expected glaucoma cases are undiscovered, hence underlining the requirement for regular eye checkups, starting at age 40. An eye care professional will be able to detect the signs of glaucoma before you can, and timely medication and treatment is critical to forestall the disease from spreading and to prevent permanent vision loss.
Early indications of glaucoma incorporates trouble with low contrast, and some deficiency of fringe vision. In further developed stages, patients foster loss of their visual field, or blind spots, that at last lead to focal vision loss.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma causes symptoms of pain, blurred vision, and nausea, and is a medical emergency.
What Treatment Alternatives are Accessible?
In spite of the fact that there is as of now no permanent remedy for glaucoma, treatment can help slow or stop the speed of vision loss. Depending upon many elements, including your age and the sort and seriousness of your glaucoma, treatment may include medications and/or surgery directed at lowering eye pressure.
Medications include pressure-lowering eye drops that work to increase fluid drainage or decrease fluid production. Laser can also be used to increase drainage (in the angle) or to make an opening in the iris in case of angleclosure glaucoma. Various surgical techniques may be used to create an alternate fluid outflow pathway in the eye, so-called filtering surgery and tube-shunt surgery. Recent surgical innovations called minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, or MIGS, help in fluid drainage using microscopic-sized implants in the eye.
The future of Glaucoma Care
Researches in glaucoma are mostly focused on working on the reasons for the disease development and progression and foster more designated and customised medicines. There are various other subtypes of glaucoma, apart from the types portrayed here, that many believe will benefit from various medicines. Later on, hereditary testing might assume a part in assessing individual susceptibility for inheriting glaucoma over the long haul. Additionally, newer treatments to stop loss of nerve cells (of the retina and optic nerve), called neuroprotection, show guarantee. Analysts are now concentrating on new medications, drug conveyance frameworks, and advancements to make medical procedures more protected and compelling.
Early Discovery is Vital
In case you are stressed over glaucoma, and particularly if you have a family history of it then the best approach is to visit your eye specialist regularly. Every adult should have a standard eye examination at age 40, regardless of whether your vision is normal. Vision loss from glaucoma can be minimised with treatment, so early diagnosis and treatment of this disease is vital.
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