Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease where the eye’s optic nerve is damaged by the internal pressure of the eye. If the condition continues, it will cause permanent/total loss of vision if left untreated.

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Major types of glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma

In this type of glaucoma, an increase in eye pressure occurs slowly over time due to the reducing efficiency of the eye’s drainage system. Open-angle glaucoma can run in families.

Angle-closure glaucoma

The acute form of this type of glaucoma is an emergency condition which would cause a quick, severe, and painful rise in the pressure of the eye. This happens when there is partial or complete blockage of the eye’s drainage. When completely blocked, eye pressure rises quickly resulting in a closed-angle glaucoma attack.

In the chronic version, the drainage angles close over time thereby leading to a rise in eye pressure with subsequent damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.

Congenital glaucoma

A less common type of glaucoma that develops in infants and young children that can be inherited.

Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma refers to cases where another eye condition or disease contributes to increased eye pressure. It may be caused by:

  • Eye injury
  • Inflammation
  • Advanced cases of cataract or diabetes
  • Drugs, such as long-term use of steroids

Symptoms

Typically no symptoms occur until much later when central vision is affected. In the acute form, there may be:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Redness of the eye
  • Seeing coloured rainbows or halos
  • Severe headache and vomiting

Treatment for Glaucoma

Glaucoma treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser surgery, or surgery.

  1. Eye drops are used to reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or increase its outflow.
  2. Laser surgery for glaucoma increases the outflow of the fluid from the eye in open-angle glaucoma or eliminates the fluid blockage in angle-closure glaucoma.
  3. Types of laser surgery for glaucoma include:
    • Trabeculoplasty, in which a laser is used to open the trabecular meshwork drainage area;
    • Iridotomy, in which a tiny hole is made in the iris, allowing the fluid to flow more freely;
    • Cyclophotocoagulation, in which the production of fluid is reduced.
  4. Glaucoma surgery, channels are created to augment the outflow of fluid from the eye, thereby reducing eye pressure.