What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which have one thing in common - increasing eye pressure and progressive damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma affects peripheral vision and slowly progresses towards the centre. Not all types are painful and so your vision may reduce in glaucoma without you realizing until a very late stage.
What is this Eye pressure? Is it the same as Blood Pressure?
The eye also maintains its pressure. It varies between 10 and 20 mmHg in most eyes. It is different from Blood Pressure and not correlated. Eye pressure is not the only determinant for glaucoma, meaning that you may also have normal eye pressure and yet suffer from the disease. This is called “Normal Tension Glaucoma”.
What is the Optic nerve?
The optic nerve transmits images from the eye to the brain just like the cable of your TV. And we know how damage to your cable can result in poor picture quality.
How will I get Glaucoma?
Glaucoma can affect any person regardless of age, gender, economic status, and personal habits. Some risk factors increase the possibility of developing glaucoma. These are-
- People who wear high minus or plus spectacle power - High Myopia and Hypermetropia
- People who are on oral steroid medication or steroid drops
- Those who have suffered an eye injury (e.g. with a cricket ball or shuttlecock)
- Anybody with a close family member diagnosed with glaucoma
How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is detected by specific tests done by your eye doctor.
- The most common test is recording the eye pressure. It can be done painlessly with specific pressure recording devices. We usually record eye pressure for all patients who come for an eye examination.
- The other common test is a fundus exam. The eye doctor uses an ophthalmoscope to shine light inside your eye and examines the optic nerve. Dilatation of the pupil with drops may be necessary to further examine the eye in detail.
- A more specific test is the computerised Visual Field test done to locate the areas of visual loss due to Glaucoma.
- An advanced test called OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) may also be needed to obtain more detailed information about the status of the optic nerve.
Is Glaucoma treatable?
Glaucoma is a treatable condition. Now a number of excellent pressure-controlling eye drops are available which can halt the progress of the disease. Some other forms of treatment like Lasers and surgery may also benefit certain individuals with Glaucoma. This means that your pressure will remain under control, but damage once done cannot be reversed.
It is advisable for everyone after the age of 40yrs, or those who have family history, to regularly get an eye check up done with their eye pressure evaluation.
If diagnosed early and treated promptly Glaucoma can be treated effectively and vision preserved.