Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Eye vision disorders not only result from staring at a computer monitor or smartphone, it turns out glaucoma disease is also the cause and even risk of blindness. Glaucoma is relatively common, especially in older adults and can cause damage to the optic nerve if left untreated. Read more see what glaucoma is until the treatment below.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by increased fluid pressure in the eye. If glaucoma is not treated immediately, the patient can lose vision and even become blind.

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve of the eye and gets worse over time. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not appear until a certain age.

Increased eyeball pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If there is optic nerve damage due to elevated eyeball pressure, glaucoma will cause permanent vision loss within a few years of the disease, if not treated immediately.

Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma usually occurs when eye pressure rises. This can occur when the circulation of eye fluid is not smooth as usual in the eye. Pressure in the eye increases when the eye fluid drainage system fails to function properly. Glaucoma can develop slowly (chronic glaucoma) or suddenly (acute glaucoma):

1. Chronic glaucoma

The cause of glaucoma due to blockage of the eye drainage channel occurs gradually. This is the most common and painless form

2. Acute glaucoma

Blockage in the eye drainage channel occurs suddenly. This is painful and can cause permanent vision loss if not treated immediately.

There are various types of glaucoma, with various characteristics and causes of glaucoma. Some of them are:

3. Open-angle glaucoma

Also called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common type of glaucoma. The structure of the eye appears normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the eye canal (trabecular meshwork channel).

In open-angle glaucoma, usually the disease progresses slowly, beginning with being unable to see in the field of view left or right or up or down, and then will lose vision that feels like seeing from a tunnel (tunnel vision).

4. Closed angle glaucoma

Also called narrow angle glaucoma. Poor drainage is caused by the angle between the iris and the cornea being too narrow and physically blocked by the iris. This condition causes a sudden buildup of pressure in the eyes.

Symptoms of glaucoma appear suddenly and are more severe than chronic glaucoma. In acute glaucoma, the eyes appear red, the patient also complains of dizziness, followed by nausea and vomiting.

5. Primary open-angle glaucoma

Partial blockage in the eye’s drainage system causes fluid to flow out of the eye too slowly, resulting in a gradual increase in pressure inside the eye.

6. Congenital glaucoma

Children born with congenital glaucoma have a defect in the corner of their eyes, which slows or prevents normal fluid flow. Congenital glaucoma usually presents with glaucoma symptoms, such as cloudy eyes, excessive tears, or sensitivity to light. Congenital glaucoma can occur in families.

7. Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is usually a side effect of injury or other eye conditions, such as cataracts or eye tumors. Medications, such as corticosteroids, can also cause this type of glaucoma. Eye surgery can rarely cause secondary glaucoma.

8. Glaucoma is normal

In some cases, people without increased eye pressure suffer damage to the optic nerve. The cause is unknown. However, extreme sensitivity or lack of blood flow to the optic nerve may be a factor in this type of glaucoma.

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by Healthline, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Risk factors for glaucoma include:

1. Age

People over 60 years have a higher risk of glaucoma, and the risk of glaucoma increases slightly with age. If you are of African-American descent, the increased risk starts at age 40.

2. Ethnicity

African-Americans or people of African descent are significantly more likely to have glaucoma than Caucasians. People of Asian descent have a higher risk of closed-angle glaucoma, and people of Japanese descent have a higher risk of developing low-voltage glaucoma.

3. Eye problems

Chronic eye inflammation and thin corneas can cause increased pressure in the eye. Physical injury or trauma to the eye, such as exposure to the eye can also cause increased eye pressure.

4. Family descendants

Some types of glaucoma can be inherited in families. If parents or grandparents suffer from open-angle glaucoma, their offspring are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

5. Health history

Diabetics, people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease have an increased risk of getting glaucoma.

6. The use of certain drugs

Using corticosteroids for a long time can increase the risk of secondary glaucoma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

If you have any of the following symptoms of glaucoma, seek immediate medical treatment:

  • See halos around the lamp
  • Vision loss
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Eyes that look blurry, especially in babies who have corneal swelling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Narrowing of views, such as viewing from a tunnel or keyhole.

Glaucoma Diagnosis

To diagnose glaucoma, the ophthalmologist will examine the eyes’ vision and examine the eyes through dilated pupils with the drug. The eye examination usually focuses on the optic nerve, which has a special appearance for glaucoma, which is the widening of the optic disc ratio of the optic nerve. In fact, optic nerve photographs can also help track glaucoma over time.

The doctor will also perform a procedure called tonometry to check eye pressure, and visual field tests, if necessary, to determine whether there is loss of field of view.

If the results of the tonometry examination (measuring eye pressure) show an increase in eye pressure, the mydriasis (pupil dilation) procedure to see the optic nerve should not be performed.

How to treat glaucoma

Ways to treat glaucoma can include oral medication, eye drops, laser surgery, or micro surgery.

1. Taking medication

Usually these oral medicines are drugs to reduce fluid in the body. Side effects are glaucoma sufferers will often urinate, and lose body electrolytes. For that, usually the consumption of these drugs is often accompanied by the consumption of tablets containing electrolytes such as KCl tablets.

2. Eye drops for glaucoma

This both reduces the formation of aqueous humor (slimy fluid). Side effects of glaucoma drops may include allergies, redness of the eyes, blurred vision, and eye irritation.

Some glaucoma medications can affect the heart and lungs. Make sure the patient tells about the history of heart and lung disease

3. Laser surgery for glaucoma

Laser surgery for glaucoma is performed to increase the flow of fluid out of the eye in open-angle glaucoma or to remove fluid blockage in closed-angle glaucoma.

Types of laser surgery for glaucoma include trabeculoplasty, where the laser is used to open the trabecular meshwork drainage area and iridotomy, where small holes are made in the iris, which allows fluid to flow more freely and cyclophotocoagulation, where the laser beam is directed to the area of ​​the middle layer of the eye, to reduce fluid production.

4. Micro surgery for glaucoma

In an operation called trabeculectomy a new channel is created to drain the fluid, thereby reducing the intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma. Sometimes this form of glaucoma surgery fails and must be repeated.

Other complications of micro procedures for glaucoma are temporary or permanent vision loss, and bleeding or infection.

Glaucoma Prevention

Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, the disease can be controlled.

1. Regular eye care

Regular eye control can help detect glaucoma in the early stages before permanent damage occurs. As a general rule, do a thorough eye examination every four years starting at age 40 and every two years from age 65.

You may need to screen more often if you are at high risk of glaucoma. Ask your doctor to recommend a screening schedule that is right for you.

2. Find out your family’s eye health history

Glaucoma tends to occur because it is inherited from the family. If you are at high risk, you may need to screen more often.

3. Exercise safely

Regular, moderate exercise can help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure. Talk to your doctor about the right exercise program.

4. Use eye drops regularly prescribed

Glaucoma eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that high eye pressure will progress to glaucoma. To be effective, eye drops prescribed by your doctor need to be used regularly even if you don’t have glaucoma symptoms.

5. Wear eye protection

Serious eye injuries can cause glaucoma. Wear eye protection when outside the room, when using electric tools or when exercising.

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