Glaucoma can lead to vision loss! Know the signs for early detection and treatment

Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that may cause blindness or complete vision loss. Check out symptoms, causes, and ways to treat glaucoma.
Glaucoma types and treatment
Glaucoma has become a rising problem. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Ajay Pathak Published: 17 Jun 2023, 15:00 pm IST
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Glaucoma, a complex eye condition, is a major cause of blindness in individuals aged 60 and above, but it can affect people of all ages. In India, it ranks as the third most common cause of blindness, affecting approximately 12 million individuals and accounting for 12.8 percent of the country’s blindness. It is crucial to understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment options associated with glaucoma to effectively manage and prevent vision loss due to this condition.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. It is often associated with elevated intraocular pressure (pressure within the eye), although it can also occur with normal or low pressure.

Symptoms of glaucoma include:

It is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it typically progresses slowly, without noticeable symptoms in its early stages. The only way to know this condition is to go for an eye exam every year to catch it before it causes major harm. However, as the disease progresses, you may experience these common symptoms:

  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision: This is usually the first sign of glaucoma. Over time, the field of vision narrows, and if left untreated, it can lead to tunnel vision.
  • Blurred vision: As the optic nerve becomes more damaged, the clarity of vision may be affected, leading to blurred vision.
  • Increased sensitivity to light: Some people with glaucoma may become more sensitive to light or experience halos around lights.
symptoms of glaucoma
Glaucoma rarely shows symptoms. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Recognizing the symptoms of glaucoma is crucial for early detection and treatment. However, it’s important to note that these symptoms may not be present in the early stages of the disease or may be easily overlooked. Hence, regular eye examinations are essential to detect glaucoma before significant vision loss occurs.

Types of glaucoma

As the disease advances, it can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. There are different types of glaucoma, including primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, and normal-tension glaucoma, each with varying risk factors and characteristics.

Also read: Regular eye check-ups today can prevent glaucoma in old-age: Study

Diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma

Diagnosing glaucoma involves a comprehensive eye examination, which includes measuring intraocular pressure, evaluating the optic nerve, and assessing visual field loss. Tonometry is a common test used to measure intraocular pressure, while ophthalmoscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT) provide detailed images of the optic nerve to detect any damage. Visual field tests are conducted to determine the extent of peripheral vision loss, which is a hallmark of glaucoma.

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Once diagnosed, the goal of treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure and prevent further optic nerve damage. Early treatment can work to stop the damage and protect your vision. Treatment options for glaucoma include eye drops, oral medications, laser therapy, and surgery.

  • Eye drops, such as prostaglandin analogs and beta-blockers, help to lower intraocular pressure by improving fluid drainage or reducing fluid production.
  • Oral medications may be prescribed in cases where eye drops are ineffective.
  • Laser therapy, such as trabeculoplasty or iridotomy, is used to enhance fluid outflow from the eye.
  • In severe cases or when other treatments fail to give desired results, surgical procedures like trabeculectomy or drainage implants may be necessary to create alternative drainage pathways.
ways to treat glaucoma
Follow these tips to manage glaucoma. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In addition to medical interventions, lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing glaucoma. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and controlling blood pressure can help reduce the risk of glaucoma progression. Patients should also adhere to their prescribed treatment regimen, attend regular follow-up appointments, and communicate any changes in their vision or symptoms to their ophthalmologist.

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Takeaway

Glaucoma poses a significant threat to vision worldwide. With its gradual progression and often unnoticed symptoms, early detection, and treatment are paramount. By prioritizing regular eye examinations, raising awareness about the disease, and adhering to prescribed treatment regimens, we can effectively combat glaucoma and prevent irreversible vision loss.

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About the Author

Dr Ajay Pathak, Senior Consultant–Ophthalmology, Asian Hospital Faridabad. ...Read More

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