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Eye Diseases - Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious disease leading to poor vision, either temporary or longterm, and can unfortunately result in permanent blindness. Early treatment is vital to avoid this so it is important that one recognises the symptoms of glaucoma. This disease can radically deteriorate vision and lead to blindness. It is a well-known problem, but unfortunately not a particularly well-understood one.

What is Glaucoma?
It is caused by the unhealthy accumulation of pressure within the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). This is particularly harmful because it threatens the optic nerve of the eye. When the optic nerve deteriorates, visual information cannot be sent to the brain gradually making clear vision impossible. There are two principal forms of glaucoma: Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG), which gradually reduces vision capacity; Angle-Closure Glaucoma, (ACG), which strikes suddenly with a barrage of different symptoms as the field of vision radically degrades.

Symptoms include acute eye pain, light "halos", nausea as well as headaches. While Angle-Closure Glaucoma can be a shocking experience, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is a particularly insidious form of the disease as the majority of sufferers’ peripheral vision can disappear, undetected.

Additionally there are some less common forms of glaucoma. Normal Tension Glaucoma causes optic nerve damage while the intraocular pressure, (IOP) remains within a normal range. Congenital Glaucoma occurs in children born with an eye defect that develops into full blown glaucoma. Pigmentary Glaucoma occurs when the pigment clogs the eye duct draining angles. Secondary Glaucoma is a chronic form of the disease caused by serious accidents or injuries to the eye.

What is the appropriate treatment for Glaucoma?
Certain eye drop medicines can relieve and control eye pressure and prevent long-term eye degradation. Unfortunately glaucoma does not always herald its arrival with noticeable symptoms. Because of this, some patients can be lulled into a false sense of security, ignoring medicinal treatment and other precautions, while the optic nerve is sustaining even more damage.

Glaucoma surgery may be more appropriate for some patients than others and one of these treatments is called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). This involves the creation of small holes in the eyes’ filtration angle.

Another possible intervention would be a trabeculectomy that creates an artificial drainage duct in the eye. Regular eye examinations should be carried out in order to assess the actual level of eye pressure. If you should be affected by Glaucoma, have a thorough consultation with your eye doctor to find out what options are available to you as well as what the benefits and the potential risks of different types of treatments may be.