Glaucoma could be considered the silent disease that can take damage your sight or cause you to go completely. The reason it can be considered this is the fact that the most common form of glaucoma has no symptoms.
But what is glaucoma? To put it simply it is actually a group of disease that can lead to damage to your optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
It is estimated that 3 million Americans are affected with this disease. And of this 3 million only about half of them are aware of it.
So, how do you find out if you have glaucoma? You go to your eye doctor on a regular basis. If you are under 65 years of age, you should be tested every two years. If you are 65 or older you should be tested yearly.
There are eleven different kinds of glaucoma.
The following is the different types of glaucoma, some of the treatments for each kind and some of the risk factors.
1. Open angle glaucoma.
This is the most common form. The pressure in the eyes builds up slowly over time. At some point side vision is lost and without treatment blindness can occur.
Treatment for open angle glaucoma is through medicines, such as pills, ointments or drops and sometimes laser surgery to help fluid to drain.
People at risk for open angle glaucoma are: African Americans and Hispanics, especially 40 years of age and older, if you have a family history of open angle glaucoma, if you are over 60, if you have poor long distance vision (near sighted), if you have diabetes, if you are taking prescription steroids, or if you have eye injury or eye surgery.
2. Acute Closed angle glaucoma:
This type of glaucoma results when the normal flow of eye fluid between the iris and the lens becomes blocked.
You can have symptoms with this type of glaucoma and they are: severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and seeing a colored halo around lights.
This type of glaucoma is considered a medical emergency and a must for you to seek treatment if you have these symptoms. The reason why is that this type of glaucoma works fast and can result in you going blind within 1 to 2 days.
When you seek treatment, you will be given medicines and more than likely they will want to perform a procedure called laser peripheral iridotomy. This procedure will help with the drainage.
3. Chronic closed angle glaucoma:
This type of glaucoma progresses slowly. It can also produce damage without any symptoms similar to open angle glaucoma.
Treatment for this type of glaucoma is usually laser surgery called laser peripheral iriodotomy and medicines.
Risk factors for closed angle glaucoma is as follows: Age, family history, far sigtness, eye injury and or eye surgery, also people who are of Asian and Eskimo descent are at an increase risk.
4. Low Tension or normal tension Glaucoma:
This type of glaucoma occurs in people with normal eye pressure who have optic nerve damage and experience narrowed side vision.
Lowering the eye pressure at least 30% through medicines slows the disease in some people. But in others the glaucoma may worsen. If no risk factors are involved such as low blood pressure treatment options are the same as open-angle glaucoma.
If you have normal tension glaucoma treatment is the same as open angle glaucoma.
Risk factors for normal tension glaucoma are: cardiovascular disease, family history and those of Japanese descent are of higher risk.
5. Secondary Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma occurs as the result of some other medical problem such as inflammation, a tumor or eye injury.
Treatment for secondary glaucoma depends on condition and whether it is acute or chronic. The underlying condition causing the glaucoma needs to be addressed, also.
6. Congenital Glaucoma
This is a condition where a baby is born with a birth defect that prevents normal drainage of the eye fluid.
Medicines are given and either one of two eyes surgeries may be performed, a goniotomy or a trabecultotomy
7. Juvenile Glaucoma
This has been used to refer to open angle glaucoma in children and young adults.
This is treated with medicines and laser or filtering surgeries.
8. Pigmentary Glaucoma
This is a rare type of glaucoma where pigment granules from the iris flakes off into the eye fluid and causing it to clog the eye drainage system.
This is treated with medicines and either laser surgery or filtering surgery or both types of surgeries.
9. Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome
This occurs when outer layers of the lens flake of and blocks the flow of eye fluid.
This type of glaucoma also is treated with medicines and either laser surgery or filtering surgery or both types of surgeries.
10. Irido-corneal-endothelial syndrome (ICE)
This consists of a number of features including loss of cells from the cornea, which break off and block the drainage of the eye channels which results in increased eye pressure. This can also cause scarring where the iris connects to the cornea.
This type of glaucoma is not understood. But some medicines have proven to help with manage some of the drainage.
11. Neovascular Glaucoma
This results from the growth of abnormal blood vessels that blocks the fluid drainage channels. With this you have increased eye pressure.
It is caused by: low blood supply to the eye as a result of diabetes, insufficient flow of the blood to the head due to blocked arteries in the neck or blockage of blood vessles in the back of the eye .
This type of glaucoma is treated with medicines and sometimes a surgery called scatter panretinal photocagulation may help.
As you can see, Glaucoma is a serious disease. Please be sure to be tested as needed.
And if you have glaucoma follow all your doctors instructions, make sure all of your doctors know you have this disease, carry an ID card with you at all times with a listing of your medicines and schedule for taking them, keep extra medicine on hand in case of an emergency and tell your doctors if you have any problems with your medicines.
When you are tested for glaucoma your eye doctor will dilate your eyes and then measure their pressure with various machines.
Research is being done to help explore more medicines to help with eye drainage with glaucoma.
If you want to learn more or if you wish to donate money to help with the research funding please contact the National Glaucoma Research Center.