Health & FitnessLifestyle

Glaucoma: The Sneak Thief Of Sight

Glaucoma is a type of eye disease that can damage your optic nerve. According to WebMD the optic nerve functions to supply visual information from a person’s eye to his or her brain. For this reason it is usually called ‘sneak thief of sight’ (pencuri penglihatan)

Glaucoma is usually, but not always, the result of unusually high pressure inside the eye.

HOW GLAUCOMA OCCURS?

The increased pressure is called intraocular pressure, which can damage the optic nerve.

This happens when the liquid in the front part of the eye does not  flow the way it’s supposed to.

Normally, the fluid, called aqueous humor, flows out of an eye through a net-like path.

If this channel gets blocked, the liquid builds up. That’s what causes glaucoma.

The reason for the blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that this disease is hereditary.

Other less known causes include a blunt or chemical injury to a person’s eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside the eye, and inflammatory conditions.

It’s rare, but sometimes eye surgery to correct another condition can cause glaucoma.

The condition usually affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.

TYPES OF GLAUCOMA

There are two main kinds:

Open-angle glaucoma.

This the most common type of glaucoma.

It is also called as wide-angle glaucoma. The drainage structure in your eye called the trabecular meshwork looks normal, but fluid does not flow out like the way it should.

Angle-closure glaucoma.

It’s less common in the West than in Asia.

It may also be called acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma.

Your eye doesn’t drain (mengalirkan cecair) right because the angle between your iris and cornea is too narrow.

Your iris blocks the way.

This can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in your eye.

This condition is also linked to farsightedness (rabun dekat) and cataracts, whereby the lens inside your eye becomes cloudy (berkabus)

SYMPTOMS OF GLAUCOMA?

Most people don’t have any symptoms. The first sign is often a loss of peripheral, or side vision.

According to the Family Doctor, this condition can go unnoticed until late in the disease. That’s why glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of vision.” (pencuri penglihatan)

Detecting glaucoma early is one reason individuals should have a complete eye examintaion with an eye specialist every 1 to 2 years.

 

Occasionally, pressure inside the eye can rise to severe levels.

In these cases, individuals may have sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights.

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:

  • Seeing halos  (circles of lights )
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in the eye
  • Eye that looks hazy (kabur) (particularly in infants)
  • Nausea (loya) or vomiting (muntah-muntah)
  • Eye pain
  • Narrowed vision (tunnel vision)

The increased pressure destroys the nerve cells in the eye, which leads to vision loss.

At first, a person may have blind spots only in his/her peripheral (side) vision.

 If the disease is not treated, the central vision (penglihatan tengah) will also be affected.

Vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent.

TREATMENTS FOR GLAUCOMA

According to WebMD, doctors may use prescription eye drops, laser surgery, or microsurgery to treat this condition.

Eye drops

These either reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or increase the fluid outflow.

Side effects may include allergies, redness, stinging, blurred vision, and irritated eyes.

Some glaucoma drugs may affect your heart and lungs.

Laser surgery

This procedure can slightly increase the flow of the fluid from the eye for people with open-angle glaucoma.

It can stop fluid blockage if you have angle-closure glaucoma. Procedures include:

  • Trabeculoplasty: Opens the area of drainage (kawasan saliran)
  • Iridotomy: Makes a tiny hole in the iris to let fluid flow more freely
  • Cyclophotocoagulation: Treats areas of the middle layer of your eye to reduce fluid production
Using laser to treat glaucoma

Microsurgery

In a procedure called a trabeculectomy, the doctor creates a new channel to drain the fluid and ease eye pressure.

Sometimes this form of glaucoma surgery might not be successful, therefore it might need to be redone.

The doctor might implant a tube to help drain fluid.

However, surgery can cause temporary or permanent vision loss, as well as bleeding or infection.

Open-angle glaucoma is most often treated with various combinations of eye drops, laser trabeculoplasty, and microsurgery.

Doctors in the U.S. usually starts treatment using medications, but there’s evidence that early laser surgery or microsurgery could work better for some people.

Microsurgery to treat glaucoma

CAN GLAUCOMA BE PREVENTED?

Currently, regular eye exams are the best form of prevention against significant glaucoma damage.

According to Glaucoma Research Foundation, early detection and careful, lifelong treatment can maintain vision in most people.

Commonly, checkups for glaucoma should be done:

  • before age 40, every two to four years
  • from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
  • from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months

Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35.

Those at higher risk include people of African descent, people with diabetes, and people with a family history of glaucoma.

A person is at an increased risk if he/she has siblings with glaucoma.

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