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Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerves, which are among the essential elements necessary for our good vision. This problem is most commonly associated with excessively high intraocular pressure. Glaucoma can affect people in very different ages but is most common among the elderly over 60 years old.
Glaucoma is a disease that often does not give you warning signs, and the changes in the eye are slow enough that it is not easy to notice the progression of the disease until it is advanced.
Vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent. Therefore, crucial is prevention and regular eye examination, with particular emphasis on measuring the pressure inside the eye. Early diagnosis can slow down or prevent loss of vision but requires treatment for life.
Glaucoma can manifest itself in different ways depending on the type and severity of the disease. These may include, among others:
- trouble seeing the side or focus only on the central image, often appearing in both eyes;
- intense and annoying headaches;
- eye pain;
- nausea and vomiting;
- blurred picture;
- the sensitivity to light;
- the redness of the eyes.
Untreated glaucoma causes blindness, so when any unpleasant vision symptoms appear, you should contact your doctor immediately. If symptoms of acute inflammation of the oral cavity occur, such as severe headaches, pain in the eye or blurred vision, a visit to the doctor is necessary.
The causes of glaucoma
Glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve, and as this condition gradually appears, often the first signs of the disease are the appearance of dead spots in the field of vision. The occurrence of glaucoma is associated with elevated pressure in the eye, which in turn is associated with accumulation of fluid flowing through the entire eye. This liquid usually flows to the front of the eye through the tissue at the angle at which the iris connects to the cornea. When the fluid accumulates in excess or its drainage system is not working properly, the liquid is not excreted in the right place, which contributes to the increase in pressure inside the eye.
Types of the disease are very different, however, among the major include:
- open angle glaucoma – this is the most common form of this eye disease occurs when the angle drain through the cornea and the iris is open, but the outflow of the fluid is blocked, which in turn leads to an increase in pressure in the eye damaging the optic nerves;
- angle-closure glaucoma – occurs when the iris extends forwardly narrowing the angle of the drain, the fluid is not properly circulated through the eye and increases the pressure inside the eyeball;
- low-pressure glaucoma – a type of glaucoma in which the sensitive optic nerve can be damaged even when the blood pressure is normal;
- congenital glaucoma – occurring from birth or developing in the first years of life, is most commonly caused by drainage blockage or primary medical condition;
- pigmented glaucoma – when the iris pigment blocks fluid from the eye, it may be caused due to some physical activity like jogging;
The group’s risk of developing glaucoma can include those who:
- They have high internal pressure of the eye (intraocular pressure);
- They are over the age of 60 years;
- They have a family history of eye disease;
- They have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or sickle cell anemia;
- They have certain eye problems like myopia;
- They have had eye injury or scheduled surgery on the eye;
- They are deficient in estrogen – e.g., ovariectomized before 43 years of age;
- They use a corticosteroid medicines.
Diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma
When diagnosing the eye problem, the doctor examines the history of the disease and performs a comprehensive eye examination by:
- measuring the pressure within the ocular (tonometry);
- examination of the optic nerve;
- checking areas of loss of vision (visual field);
- measuring the thickness of the cornea (pachymetry);
- checking drainage angle (gonioscopy).
Because the damage caused by the disease can not be reversed, treatment relies mainly on slowing the progression of the disease and prevent vision loss. The primary objective is to reduce the pressure in the eye.
Depending on the severity of the disease, eye drops, laser treatment and, in severe cases, surgical procedures are used.
Researchers are constantly looking for new ways of treating glaucoma and alternatives, but the lifestyle of people with this eye problem is also important in prevention. In addition to regular visits to the doctor and adherence to medical recommendations, patients with glaucoma should take care of:
- a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals,
- regular physical activity tailored to the capabilities (it is worth to consult the type of exercise with your doctor, because some disciplines of sports may adversely affect the health of the eyes),
- limiting caffeine, which increases blood pressure,
- or sleep in a slightly raised position of the head,