Glaucoma is the world’s second largest cause of blindness and the primary cause of permanent blindness. It commonly afflicts individuals aged 40 and above, and it can be inherited; relatives of those with glaucoma are at a higher risk.
It occurs as a result of an increase in intraocular pressure, which causes gradual damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve conveys visual impulses to the brain, and damage to it results in vision loss.
Most of the time, the ailment progresses gradually, and the individual is generally unaware of it until it is too late. When one observes a loss in eyesight, there is generally already moderate to severe nerve damage.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES?
There are 4 main types of glaucoma:
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma progresses slowly and has no noticeable symptoms in the early stages. It is the most common form of glaucoma found globally.
This form of glaucoma can develop when the eyeball gets inflamed or when a cataract becomes too advanced and enlarged. It may also be caused by injury or accidently by eye surgery.
Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Asians are more predisposed to this type of glaucoma with Singapore being documented as having the world’s highest incidence of it. It develops gradually and often goes undetected for a long time. It is caused by increased blockage of the eyeball’s drainage pathways, resulting in a protracted rise in eye pressure.
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Middle-aged or older women are more predisposed to getting this form of glaucoma. It is caused by a blockage of the fluid drainage canals in the eye, which results in a fast rise in fluid pressure within the eye.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma and Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma. Most people do not realise they have it until their central vision begins to deteriorate. By then, there may have already been considerable permanent nerve damage.
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma on the other hand, can occur all of a sudden – symptoms include severe eye pain, headache, redness, blurriness, seeing haloes, and nausea. It is recommended that immediate medical intervention be sought.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?
- More than 60 years old
- A family history of glaucoma
- Diabetes and high blood pressure
- Excessively high degree of short- or long-sightedness.
- History of eye injuries or certain types of eye surgery
GLAUCOMA SCREENING TO GET THE BEST POSSIBLE TREATMENT
As glaucoma in the early stages is hardly noticeable, having regular eye screenings is extremely beneficial in detecting the condition early and initiating timely treatment.