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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a neuro-degenerative group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve resulting in a permanent reduction of peripheral vision, tunnel vision and if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Infact glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in most western countries and this is because it often goes untreated until the reduction in peripheral sight becomes noticeable. Glaucoma often presents no discomfort or obvious symptoms until it is too late and is the reason it is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight”.

You only have Glaucoma if you have already experienced some damage to the optic nerve. This damage cannot be undone or cured, it is permanent; which is why early intervention is so important.

High Interocular Pressure, which is a build up of pressure within the eye caused by a discrepancy between the inflow and outflow of Aqueous Humor, creates a condition known a ocular hypertension (OH). OH is closely associated with Glaucoma and is one of the key symptoms / precursors of Glaucoma. It is quite possible to have OH without Glaucoma and vice versa.

However those with Ocular Hypertension are at a much greater risk of developing Glaucoma.

The main types of Glaucoma are:

     

  • Open Angle or Chronic Glaucoma – This is the most common form of Glaucoma. Nearly half of all Americans who have this form of Glaucoma, don't know they have it. It develops slowly and damage to the nerve and loss of sight is gradual. The term 'open angle' refers to the angle between the iris and sclera which is normal The drainage system of the eye known as the Trabular Meshwork gets clogged and starts to obstruct and slow the natural flow of Aqueous Humor fluid from the eye, this can lead to elevated Inter-ocular Pressure (IOP).

  • Closed Angle Glaucoma – is an ocular emergency that requires immediate medical attention. It is a rare form of Glaucoma and is caused by a structural defect within the eye that creates a narrowing of the angle between the base of the Iris and the Cornea . If the iris slips forward, it may block the fluid drainage angle preventing Aqueous Humor from leaving the eye and causing a large increase in IOP. The symptoms are severe eye pain, blurred or haloed vision, nausea, vomiting, and headache.

  • Low Tension Glaucoma is where optic nerve damage is present without the usual high IOP that is normally associated with Glaucoma. Doctors are uncertain what actually causes the nerve damage.

  • Secondary Glaucoma – develops as a result of other conditions such as injury, inflammation, infection, a tumor, diabetes or the effects of drugs ( particularly steroids ).

  • Congenital glaucoma – is an inherited form of glaucoma that is present at birth. These children are born with narrow angles or some other defect in the drainage system of the eye. Congenital glaucoma typically occurs more in boys than in girls.

  • Pigmentary glaucoma – is a rare form of secondary Glaucoma and is caused by pigment deposited from the iris clogging the draining angles, preventing aqueous humor from leaving the eye. Pigmentary glaucoma affects mostly white males in their mid-30s to mid-40s.