15 Oct How to treat glaucoma in the eye?
According to the Glaucoma Organization of Australia, almost 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, and about 50% of this number are unaware. With glaucoma being the major cause of blindness among Australians above the age of 55, and the second leading cause of blindness worldwide according to WHO, it is important to be educated about this eye condition.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a family term used to refer to several eye diseases that lead to the damage of the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. In most cases, the damage to the optic nerve is caused by high intraocular pressure which stems from a blockage in the eye’s fluid drainage system.
This blockage causes the fluid to build which will then begin to put pressure on the optic nerve. This excessive pressure causes damage to the nerve. However, there are cases where glaucoma occurs even when the intraocular pressure in the eye is standard.
How to diagnose glaucoma?
Unfortunately, glaucoma occurs very subtly, and there are nearly no symptoms during the early stages of the condition. However, as glaucoma progresses patients may experience:
- Painless loss of side vision
- Painless blurred vision
- Difficulty in adjusting to low light
The only sure way to guarantee early detection of glaucoma is through regular visits to your ophthalmologist for eye examinations. The eye examination should be carried out every 2 to 3 years. During the examination, your ophthalmologist will be looking at:
- The condition of the nerve fibres in your eye using an ophthalmoscope
- The structure of your eye network drainage using a gonioscopy test
- Your eye pressure through a fundoscopic eye exam as well as tonometry testing
- Your field of vision with a perimetry test
Who is at risk of suffering from glaucoma?
Glaucoma mostly affects the elderly; therefore, individuals above 40 years are at risk. Other candidates at the risk of suffering from glaucoma include:
- Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
- Individuals with diabetes or hypertension
- Individuals who suffer from migraines
- Individuals who have ever had a severe eye injury
- Individuals who have had to use steroid treatment, e.g. for eczema, asthma, joint disease etc. over a long period
- Individuals suffering from short sightedness
How is glaucoma treated?
In the initial stages of glaucoma where a significant number of fibres in the optic nerve are damaged, the peripheral vision is lost. As the condition progresses, your central vision will be affected next, and if not treated, it might lead to total eyesight loss.
Glaucoma treatment does not repair the damaged optic nerve as that is impossible, but it works to either prevent or slow down the rate of further damage. Glaucoma can be treated using eye droplet medication, laser treatment or surgery.
Eye droplets treat glaucoma by reducing the pressure exerted on the optical nerve while laser surgery is used to unblock the drainage channel of the eye’s fluid or create a new one.
“The key to preventing loss of sight caused by glaucoma is timely detection and early treatment. Regular visits to your ophthalmologist are a surefire way to keep glaucoma at bay.” – Dr Ron Binetter
This article is not a substitute for a consultation with your surgeon. Before choosing to proceed with laser eye surgery your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about the right procedure and about the potential complications.
A unique mix of expertise, experience and international reputation, Dr Ron Binetter is the figure behind the Binetter Eye Centre. With more than two decades of hands-on experience in eye surgery, Dr Binetter is a specialist in cataract, lens implantation and laser eye surgery. Learn more about Dr Ron Binetter’s background and qualifications.