Glaucoma
'The Thief of Sight'

What is it?…

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions caused by damage to the Optic Nerve, Causing Irreversable vision loss and, if untreated blindness.

This usually happens when there is raised pressure of the fluid in the eye.

Normally your eye produces a clear fluid called Aqueous Humour from cells behind your Iris, which helps keep the shape of the eye a bit like a water filled ballon.
This fluid drains away through your pupils at the same rate at which it is made. Which keeps the internal pressure roughly equal.

But.
If this fluid can’t get away quick enough, or your eye produces too much. The pressure in your eye rises and this causes damage to your optic nerve.
Although there are some people who have normal eye pressure but seem to have weak Optic Nerves. High blood pressure is also thought to be a possible cause. There are also links with Diabetes

There are two types of this disease that occur in middle age…

  • Closed angle
  • Primary open angle

Closed angle glaucoma
Also known as, Acute Angle Closure
Is a very painful condition which comes on rapidly. It’s caused by a serious and sudden blockage in the eye.

Symptoms

  • Red and Inflamed Eye
  • Blurred Vision
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Haloes round lights
  • Dilated Pupils

These symptoms can vary from mild cases which may pass overnight for instance to very severe cases which require immediate medical care.
If damage occurs then it is irreversible.

But the real bad guy is…

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma
AKA, Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma

Unlike Closed Angle, this is a gradually occurring condition, which at first affects your peripheral vision…

Look straight ahead and put your hands to your temples and move them forward until you can see them.
That’s your peripheral vision

Because we tend to concentrate on the area in front of our eyes we don’t notice deterioration in this area until something happens to make us notice…
So it progresses undetected, and… Again the damage is irreversible.
That’s why its has been nicknamed “The Thief of Sight”

This picture shows a fairly advabced stage of the disease

Treatment
As I said there is no way of repairing the damage done. So all treatments are a damage limitation exercise…

Drugs
Various types of drugs are used to try and stabilise the over-pressure of the eyes in either oral (Tablet) or more usually in the form of eye drops

The most commonly used medications are…

  • Beta blockers
  • Adrnaline drops
  • Carbonlic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Miotics
  • Prostaglandin Analogues

Surgery
Surgery is a delicate procedure but can have quite good results in reducing the pressure effects on the eye There are several different operations involving traditional surgical techniques which help the eye to drain off excess fluid.

To see a short video of this surgery

There are also several kinds of Laser Surgery available, in which a laser is used to burn away tissue to allow drainage.

One of these techniques is called Trabeculoplasty

To see a video of Trabeculoplasty

Living with Glaucoma
Unfortunately this is one of those conditions where treatment is likely to last for the rest of your life.
But it can be managed, and so long as you stick to the rules it need not really interfere with your life too much.

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