The human eye is a complex wonder that gives us the ability to see the world around us.
However, diseases like Glaucoma can harm our vision if we don’t pay attention. Glaucoma is when the optic nerve becomes diseased. It may due to raised eye pressure in around 50% of cases, others have normal pressure but due to other factors can lead to glaucoma.
In the beginning, Glaucoma doesn’t show itself much and silently affects our nerve loss. But as it gets worse, it can lead to a narrow view, like looking through a tunnel. This could lead to blindness if we don’t do something about it.
Currently, there are 708,000 people living with Glaucoma in the UK. If you want to learn more about what Glaucoma is, the symptoms, causes and treatments, this blogpost is for you.
What is Glaucoma of the eye?
Glaucoma is a medical condition that can lead to vision loss if not treated early and effectively. This disease occurs when the optic nerve becomes damaged.
It can be due to increased pressure within the eye, specifically in the fluid known as aqueous humour. This pressure buildup can damage the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain.
In the initial stages of Glaucoma development, the damage to the optic nerve caused by glaucoma often starts with no symptoms. You need to have around 50% nerve damage before symptoms can arise, then the rate of progression is rapid and difficult to control. If left untreated, glaucoma can gradually lead to tunnel vision and even complete blindness.
The key points:
- You will not feel ‘pressure’ in the eye
- It is a silent disease but controllable if detected early
- We can detect the different types sooner than normal due to our experience and technology.
What are the different types of Glaucoma?
There are three different types of Glaucoma.
The most common form of Glaucoma is Open-Angle Glaucoma. This form of Glaucoma develops gradually over time. The drainage angle of the eye remains open, but the trabecular meshwork becomes less efficient at draining fluid. This leads to increased intraocular pressure and eventual damage to the optic nerve.
Also known as closed-angle or narrow-angle glaucoma, this form of Glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle between the iris and cornea becomes blocked. This can lead to a sudden increase in intraocular pressure, causing severe pain and rapid vision loss.
We have an ultrasound device that helps measure the angle size and detect it much quicker than most opticians who just shine a light on the eye and guesstimate.
This subtype of Glaucoma occurs when optic nerve damage occurs despite normal intraocular pressure. The exact reasoning behind normal-tension glaucoma is not fully understood, but it highlights the complexity of the condition.
What is the main cause of Glaucoma?
Some of the main causes to be aware of include:
In Open-Angle Glaucoma, the drainage angle of the eye becomes less efficient over time, which can cause the fluid to drain too slowly, leading to an accumulation of pressure within the eye.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage angle between the iris and cornea becomes blocked, causing a sudden increase in intraocular pressure.
Family history of Glaucoma
Certain genetic factors may make some individuals more susceptible to optic nerve damage. Some individuals may naturally have thin corneas which can increase vulnerability.
Age related factors
As we age, the risk of glaucoma increases. This is particularly true for individuals over the age of 60.
Some ethnic groups, such as those of African, Hispanic, and Asian descent, have a higher risk of developing certain types of glaucoma.
Eye trauma & injury
Previous eye injuries or surgeries can increase the risk of glaucoma.
Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease can increase the risk of glaucoma.
Prolonged use of corticosteroids, especially in the form of eye drops, can contribute to the development of glaucoma. Anti-depressants have narrow the angle as well.
Those who are short-sighted have a higher risk.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma often develops without noticeable symptoms in its early stages, which is why regular eye exams are crucial for early detection. As the condition progresses, individuals may begin to experience the following symptoms:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Blurred vision
- Halos or glare
- Eye pain
- Redness of the eye
- Decreased contrast sensitivity
- Difficulty adjusting to darkness
Diagnosis and treatment of Glaucoma
Early diagnosis is essential for effective glaucoma management. Regular comprehensive eye tests, including measuring intraocular pressure and assessing the optic nerve, are crucial.
At Safarian and Simon Opticians we have the most advanced method to help detect early signs of glaucoma. Using the Heidelberg Spectralis OCT with Glaucoma module we can detect the earliest of nerve changes and help monitor them over time.
Glaucoma is a progression condition, so even setting a strong baseline is the upmost importance here. It also reduced unnecessary referrals leading to anxiety and wasted time.
Our visual fields is the gold standard equipment of choice for ophthalmologists.
Below shows how important is it to detect the Glaucoma signs before you complain of a problem.
Ophthalmolgoists can offer a wide range of treatments for Glaucoma. Although there is no current cure, measures can be taken to slow down the progression of the disease and preserve vision for as long as possible.
Treatment options include:
- Medications: Eye drops or oral medications can help lower intraocular pressure.
- Laser therapy: Procedures like trabeculoplasty and iridotomy can improve fluid drainage.
- Surgery: Surgical interventions, such as trabeculectomy and shunt implants, may be necessary for advanced cases.
How to prevent Glaucoma
If you find yourself in a higher-risk category for glaucoma, there are several everyday habits that could potentially assist in lowering the likelihood of a diagnosis.
As part of proper eye care, it is important to strive for a healthy diet and weight. Excessively high and extremely low body mass indexes (BMIs) have been linked to an increased susceptibility to glaucoma.
It is also important to avoid bad habits like smoking, as this can cause Glaucoma to occur in the eye. Instead, adopt positive habits like regular eye tests to ensure any eye issues are detected and treated as early as possible.
Do you want to book an eye test to ensure the health of your eyes?
Here at Safarian and Simon, we offer advanced comprehensive eye examinations that go beyond mere vision testing. These tests can detect the early stages of eye diseases and ensure timely intervention.
Book an appointment with the leading optician in St. John’s Wood, London.