Glaucoma: The Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that affects 3 million Americans. Sadly, it often leads to blindness because is it doesn’t usually show any symptoms until it is too late. So bear in mind that you may be more susceptible to glaucoma if you:
- Have glaucoma in the family
- Have high intraocular eye pressure
- Are over 40 years old
- Suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, migraine or myopia
It is important to have regular checks for glaucoma symptoms – because it can be controlled if detected early. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that taking eye vitamins may help to reduce eye pressure and prevent glaucoma from taking hold, although this is yet to be clinically proven. Your eye doctor may recommend eye drops and surgical treatments to relieve the intraocular eye pressure.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases where the optic nerve at the back of the eye is gradually destroyed. In most cases, this is caused by pressure building up inside the eye (a result of inadequate drainage of the aqueous fluid).
Occasionally, glaucoma is caused by poor blood supply to the optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, or problems in the actual nerve fibres.
There are two types:
- Open-Angle Glaucoma – is more common and occurs gradually as you age. It happens when the drainage in the eye becomes blocked and pressure builds up. It causes a gradual loss of peripheral vision, which is hard to notice because it is worsens very slowly over time.
- Closed-Angle Glaucoma – is rarer but takes hold very rapidly. The drainage area in the eye is completely blocked and pressure builds up fast. The symptoms include blurry vision, light halos, headaches, nausea and pain.
The first glaucoma symptoms occur when the optic nerve fibres (which communicate images to the brain) become damaged. This causes the peripheral vision to disappear, which becomes increasingly severe and eventually results in a total loss of eyesight. Glaucoma treatment is critical to prevent total blindness.
The difficulty with glaucoma treatment is that doctors can’t restore vision that is already lost to optic nerve damage. So the sooner a diagnosis is made – the better chance you have to save your vision.
So how does glaucoma treatment help? It actually involves reducing the intraocular pressure so that no further damage is done to the optic nerve fibres. The most common treatments include:
- Medicinal Eye Drops – to reduce the amount of fluid that your eye produces and take the strain off the drainage areas.
- Argon Laser Surgery – to stretch certain eye tissues in open-angle glaucoma and open up the drainage areas to reduce eye pressure.
- Filtering Surgery – to make a new drainage hole and bypass the blocked drainage system altogether.
While these artificial treatments can save your eyesight for life, there is ongoing research into eye vitamins and supplements as a natural glaucoma treatment.