The National Eye Institute states that there are 3 million people affected by glaucoma, a devastating condition that leaves one blind. By 2030, researchers expect that numbers will rise by 58%, affecting 4.2 million Americans; and the sad thing is, most of these individuals don’t know they already have it.
What is Glaucoma?
A Glaucoma is a group of various eye conditions that affect the optic nerve of the eye due to ocular hypertension or increased intraocular pressure, caused by the blockage of the eye’s drainage system. Through time, if not treated early, this can lead to vision loss.
Signs and symptoms
There are various types of glaucoma, two of which are the main types, open-angle glaucoma, and closed-angle glaucoma. These two also have different symptoms but are generally marked by ocular hypertension.
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Open-Angle Glaucoma or Primary/Chronic Glaucoma
It is called “open-angled” because the angle where the iris and the cornea meet, has become widely open; however, the trabecular meshwork which is responsible for draining the intraocular fluid to the bloodstream becomes partially blocked. Ninety percent of glaucoma cases are open-angled which makes this type the most common and affects three million Americans. Symptoms of this type include:
- Slow clogging of the eye’s drainage canal, which causes ocular hypertension.
- Iris and cornea have a broad and open angle.
- It develops slowly and also a lifelong condition.
- Symptoms and damage may not be noticeable.
This type of glaucoma is affecting more than three million people in America. In the first stage of open-angle glaucoma, most people do not notice any signs or symptoms, that is why healthcare providers encourage everyone to get regular eye check-ups.
Angle-closure Glaucoma or Closed-angle Glaucoma
Also called acute glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma occurs by the closing angle between the iris and the cornea. Its symptoms are:
- The sudden increase of intraocular pressure due to blocked drainage canals.
- Develops quickly
- Symptoms and damage are noticeable
- Immediate medical attention is required to prevent vision loss.
When caught early, glaucoma treatments can slow down the progression of open-angle glaucoma. That is why early diagnosis is imperative.
Some treatments for glaucoma include medicines like pills and eye drops. These medications help lower ocular hypertension or intraocular pressure by draining fluids by assisting the eye to produce fewer fluids.
Another method of reducing intraocular pressure is to undergo laser trabeculoplasty. This procedure allows a laser to create spaced burns on the stretched drainage holes in the meshwork. By doing so, it alleviates the patient from severe eye pain by draining excess fluids and make them flow faster.
Surgery called trabeculectomy is another effective treatment for glaucoma. The doctor will be giving the patient medication to relax and then inject an anesthetic to the eye to make it numb. Then, the doctor will remove some tissue to provide better drainage to the eye.
It is also good to note that conventional surgery’s effectivity is from 60-80%. The operation is done one eye at a time. While recovering, doctors will require you to use antibacterial medication to avoid possible eye infections.
There are many other types of glaucoma. Since most symptoms are unnoticeable, healthcare providers highly encourage regular visits to your doctor. It is imperative to have eye check-ups at least once a year, depending on your age.
People 60 and above are at risk to have glaucoma. However, glaucoma can affect people in various age groups. Africans and Hispanics are more likely to develop this debilitating condition.