What is glaucoma and how can it affect vision?

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

Glaucoma is often associated with increased eye pressure. It is a collection of diseases that have irreversible damage to delicate nerve fibers and the optic nerve which sends information to the brain.

How vision looks through the eyes of a glaucoma patient

How vision looks through the eyes of a glaucoma patient

Often referred to as “the silent thief of sight,” it causes major, irreversible damage before it is even detected. It happens when the pressure on the eyes, which characteristically function like a tyre, become abnormally high, causing permanent and irreversible damage.
Throughout the day, your eyes make and drain away a fluid called aqueous humor, which replaces itself. But if the passageway called the trabecular meshwork where the fluid is supposed to drain through gets blocked, it creates builds high levels of pressure and if it lasts for years, it can damage the retinal and optic nerve fibers.

There are different types of glaucoma, Chronic open-angle glaucoma, which, although has multiple causes, doctors think may be genetic. It generally shows up in middle age and diminishes your sight in stages, gradually along the periphery at first, and then closes in until total vision is lost.

An ophthalmologist may suggest a procedure called laser trabeculoplasty to treat open-angle glaucoma, and may numb the eye and use a laser beam to make small punctures in the drainage channel to help the fluid to flow out. This lowers the pressure in the eyes, but some people may need more than one surgery to get long-term results.
Secondary glaucoma is a series of problems usually linked to another eye disease, such as a cataract, eye inflammation or bleeding, eye tumor, or a previous eye injury. Diabetes usually causes extra blood vessels to form in the eyes and block the outflow of fluid as well, causing neovascular glaucoma.

Symptoms for glaucoma may not show up until it is too late, and without treatment, vision loss is inevitable. The vision just before tital blindness looks a lot like looking through a tunnel because the outer edges of the iris is already damaged.
Another type is congenital glaucoma, which is a rare form of the disease that affects babies and happens when the drainage channels in the eyes don’t properly develop when the child is in the womb. The child’s eye may get cloudy and look larger than normal, but surgery can fix the problem. Most babies who are treated early will have normal vision throughout their lives.

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