Disorders of the eye, though serious, often do not have any precautionary steps, thus making it difficult to prevent them. However, timely treatment can make a difference and save vision. One of such common eye disorders, glaucoma, can lead to blindness if not treated and controlled in time.
Glaucoma is caused owing to buildup of pressure within the eye. This increased pressure, termed as intraocular pressure, has detrimental effects on the optic nerve, which could ultimately lead to loss of vision over a period of time. Glaucoma, if left untreated, can cause permanent and complete blindness in a few years time.
Causes of glaucoma
The increase in pressure on the eye that causes glaucoma is because the fluid within the eye does not circulate normally. The fluid, known as aqueous humor, circulates out of the eye via a channel that resembles a mesh. When this mesh-like channel gets blocked, the fluid cannot flow, thus building up pressure, which causes glaucoma. Sadly, the cause of the channel blockage is still unknown.
Glaucoma can even, in a few cases, be caused due to blunt trauma or injury to the eye by exposure to a chemical. It can also be caused due to a severe eye infection or because of an eye surgery for some other condition. Inflammation of the eye or blockages of eye blood vessels can also lead to glaucoma.
Types of glaucoma
Glaucoma can be of two types:
- open angle glaucoma
- angle closure glaucoma
Open angle glaucoma
This is the most common type and is also known as wide angle glaucoma. In this condition, the eye structures appear normal, but the aqueous humor is unable to flow properly via the drains of the eye, which are termed trabecular meshwork.
Treatment – Laser surgery helps increase the fluid outflow from the eye.
Chronic angle closure glaucoma
This type, which is more common in Asia than in the Western population, is also known as narrow angle glaucoma, acute glaucoma, or angle closure glaucoma. In this type, drainage of eye fluid is poor because the angle between the cornea and iris of the eye is narrow or small and is blocked by the iris physically. This causes pressure to build up from the liquid, thus causing the disorder. Acute angle glaucoma is associated with a higher degree of farsightedness along with clouding of the eye lens which leads to cataract.
Treatment – In angle closure glaucoma, laser surgery helps with elimination of blockages caused by fluid buildup.
Facts about glaucoma
Research has shown that glaucoma can be inherited. Thus, those who are over 40 and have a history of glaucoma in their family must be careful and have regular eye checks once a year.
The African American population is more likely to suffer from glaucoma, at a comparatively earlier age and with a greater degree of loss of vision. Other demographic populations more inclined to develop glaucoma include Hispanic, Russian, Irish, Japanese, Scandinavian, or those of Inuit descent.
Those suffering from diabetes or under steroid medication as well as those suffering from eye trauma are more likely to develop glaucoma.
Glaucoma, whether open angle or closed angle, does not have major symptoms and thus it cannot be prevented. However, regular check-ups and timely treatment can help prevent loss of vision due to glaucoma.