Glaucoma is a disease condition that harms the optic nerve. It may eventually lead to blindness. It’s caused by an increase in intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. Glaucoma is not normally noticed until it has progressed to the late stages of the illness.
This blog post will discuss how you can prevent glaucoma from happening. How to treat it if you experience symptoms. Also, what steps you need to take if someone close to you has been diagnosed with this condition.
It was estimated back in 2010 that around 60.5 million people have glaucoma worldwide. This number was expected to increase to 79.6 million by 2020, and it is likely still growing. Glaucoma is more prevalent in some parts of the world than in others. For example, it is more common in Africa and Asia than it is in North America and Europe.
Causes of Glaucoma
There is no one specific cause of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that happens as a result of damage to the optic nerve, resulting in blind spots developing in your field of vision. Doctors don’t know why this happens but they think increased pressure from within or outside an individual’s eyes may be related.
Types of Glaucoma
There are primarily two types of glaucoma: open-angle and closed-angle.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most known among the different types of glaucoma. This type develops slowly and may not have any symptoms in the early stages. The optic nerve damage happens when fluid accumulates and pressure builds up inside the eye. The main symptom of open-angle glaucoma is a gradual loss of vision.
Closed-Angle Glaucoma is less common, but it can happen quickly. This type usually comes on suddenly and causes symptoms such as eye pain, nausea, vomiting, halos around lights at night time, redness of the eyes, or vision loss that occurs rapidly in one or both eyes. It may be caused by an eye injury, certain medications, or other health conditions.
Other types are
Normal-tension glaucoma is a type of open-angle glaucoma. This type develops when the pressure inside the eye is normal but optic nerve damage still occurs. The main symptoms are gradual vision loss and seeing halos around lights at night time.
Pigmentary glaucoma is a type of open-angle glaucoma that may affect people with darker skin and/or those who have light-colored irises. This type affects the area where fluid drains out from the eye causing increased pressure inside the eye, which can severely damage vision if not treated right away.
Risk factors for glaucoma
The risk factors for developing glaucoma are
The risk of getting glaucoma increases with age. This is because the natural drainage channels in your eyes slowly become blocked over time, which leads to an increase in pressure within the eye.
African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop glaucoma than people of other races. This is because they often have wider iris (colored part) openings that let in higher pressure causing fluid to go into the back chambers of their eyes. These conditions make them more prone to developing glaucoma compared to Caucasians and other races.
If someone in your family has a history of glaucoma, you have more chances of developing this condition. If both parents have glaucoma then the risk for children will increase by 50%.
The chance that men and women develop glaucoma is the same. However, women are more likely to have vision loss from Glaucoma because they live longer than men on average.
Previous eye injuries
People who have previous eye injuries from eye surgery or trauma are more likely to develop glaucoma because of the damage it causes. This is especially true in people with iris defects and holes on their irises which allow higher intraocular pressures.
Medical conditions like vascular eye diseases, high blood pressure, or diabetes can increase your risk of getting glaucoma.
Smoking increases the risks for many different types of health problems including vision loss due to glaucoma. The chemicals in cigarettes and cigars damage tiny blood vessels that help nourish the optic nerve which leads to poor vision over time.
It also reduces circulation throughout the body leading to reduced perfusion within eyes. Thus increasing intraocular pressures inside their eyes making them more susceptible to the development of this condition.
Being nearsighted or farsighted
People who are nearsighted or farsighted have a higher risk of developing glaucoma. This is because their lenses bend the light entering into eyes differently than people with normal vision. As a result, more pressure is being exerted on their optic nerve leading to its damage and possible development of glaucoma over time.
Having one of the risk factors above does not mean that you will definitely develop glaucoma, but it increases your chances of getting this condition. It is important to know these risk factors because if diagnosed early there are treatment options available that can prevent permanent vision loss from occurring.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
If you experience any of these symptoms then contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation:
- Blurred vision that cannot be corrected by regular glasses, contact lenses, or laser treatment (Laser trabeculoplasty).
- Trouble seeing at night time only (Scotomas) and dark patches developing over a period of time within your field of vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Objects in the distance look hazy.
- Having a feeling that something is in your eye and no matter how you try, you can’t seem to get it out.
- Headaches, especially when waking up in the morning.
- Eye pain or discomfort that you cannot describe.
Treatment for Glaucoma
If your doctor diagnoses you with glaucoma then they will discuss the different treatment options available to help lower intraocular pressure and prevent further damage from occurring. Treatment options may include:
There are many different types of eye drops that can be used to treat glaucoma. Some lower the pressure by helping fluid drain out of your eyes faster while others help keep the pressure from rising in the first place. Your doctor will prescribe the best type of eye drops for you based on your individual case.
Examples of eye drop for treating glaucoma: Prostaglandin analogs (Latanoprost, Bimatoprost), Beta-blockers (Timolol maleate, Betaxolol hydrochloride, Levobunolol HCl). Alpha agonists/Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors(Dorzolamide and Brinzolate), etc.
There are also oral medications that can be used to treat glaucoma. These medications work by reducing the production of fluid in your eyes or helping the drainage channels open up more.
Examples of oral medications for treating glaucoma: Prostaglandin analogs (Latanoprost, Bimatoprost), Alpha-blockers (Doxazosin mesylate, Prazosin HCl, Terazosin HCl). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Paroxetine hydrochloride), etc.
Natural supplements can also be used to help lower your intraocular pressure. Some of these include: Bilberry Fruit Extract, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
Marijuana has been shown to help lower intraocular pressure in some people who have glaucoma. However, marijuana is not a legal or safe treatment for glaucoma and should not be used without first consulting your doctor.
In some cases, surgery may be used to help treat glaucoma. This is only recommended when the other treatment options have been shown not to work. Or if your doctor feels that it will improve your vision and reduce further damage from occurring. Surgery for this condition includes:
This is the most common surgery for glaucoma. During this surgery, a small hole is created in the eye’s drainage system to allow fluid to escape and lower the pressure inside your eyes.
A tube shunt may be placed into your eyes during surgery that helps fluid drain out faster.
Laser trabeculoplasty uses a laser beam to create tiny holes in the drainage system of your eye which helps fluid drain out faster.
Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)
Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) is a type of surgery that is becoming more popular for treating glaucoma. This surgery is done using small incisions and special instruments which helps to minimize damage to the surrounding tissues. MIGS procedures are often less painful and have shorter recovery times than traditional surgeries. However, the long-term results of this surgery are still unknown and more research is needed.
Eye exercises may reduce the risk of developing vision loss from Glaucoma by strengthening your visual field, muscles, focusing on central vision, preventing you from losing contrast sensitivity (ability to distinguish between shades), peripheral awareness (awareness of objects around you). These are all important factors that help protect against damage caused by high pressures in your eyes. Your doctor will show you how to perform these exercises if they decide it is appropriate for helping with your condition.
Treatment considerations for Pregnant/Nursing Mothers
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, let your doctor know before starting any new medications or supplements. This is to protect the unborn baby from the side effect of some of these medication.
Preventive measures against glaucoma
There is no one surefire way to prevent glaucoma, but doctors believe that some methods may help reduce your risk of developing the condition. Some ways you can lower your chances of getting glaucoma include:
- Have regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist even if you don’t have any symptoms. This is because early detection is key for treatment options.
- If you are African American, Hispanic, or have a family history of glaucoma, see your doctor more frequently as you are at a higher risk for developing this condition.
- Quit smoking! This decreases your chances of developing glaucoma.
- Eat a healthy diet that has vegetables and fruits which contain Vitamin A, C & E – all antioxidants which lower eye pressure in some cases.
- Staying away from smoking and excessive drinking as both habits can damage blood vessels in the eyes and increase pressure in the eye over time.
- Maintaining a healthy weight as being overweight or obese increases pressure within the eyes.
- Exercising regularly helps improve blood flow throughout the body which can help lower eye pressure.
- Avoiding rubbing or pressing around the eyes as this may increase intraocular pressure which could damage vision over time.
What is the difference between glaucoma and cataracts?
Glaucoma causes increased pressure within the eye. This, over time damages optic nerve cells resulting in vision loss. Cataracts cause a progressive clouding of your lens which affects light entering into your eyes.
Is glaucoma curable?
No. However, there are treatments to prevent further vision loss if glaucoma is detected in its early stages. Early detection can help slow or stop the progression of this disease which can avoid severe damage and blindness later on in life.
What is the best vitamin to take for glaucoma?
There is no one-size-fits-all vitamin for glaucoma. However, doctors believe that supplements high in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E can help reduce eye pressure in some cases. Speak to your health care provider before starting any new vitamins or supplements.
How long does it usually take for symptoms of glaucoma to appear?
Symptoms can take a very long time or not be present at all. Glaucoma is a serious condition that occurs over the course of years and often goes undiagnosed as it doesn’t have any Symptoms in its early stages. It’s important for those who are diagnosed with glaucoma to have regular eye exams to monitor their condition.
What foods should I avoid if I have glaucoma?
Trying to follow a healthy diet is recommended for everyone, but if you have glaucoma it’s important that your body doesn’t get too much salt or sugar. Processed foods should also be avoided because they contain high amounts of sodium and can lead to a higher eye pressure.
One thing I would like to add: There are certain foods that can affect the eye pressure within your eyes like salt, caffeine, and alcohol. If you have glaucoma or high risk for developing this condition it’s best to avoid these items.
Glaucoma is a serious condition that can lead to blindness if not treated. Unfortunately, this disease affects a large number of people today and you need to know the risks for yourself or your loved ones so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
This blog post has given you some basic information on what glaucoma is, its risk factors, how it’s diagnosed, and the treatments available. If any of these apply to you or someone in your family please contact your doctor immediately!
In addition, you can visit our online store for some natural supplements that will help keep your eyesight sharp. We hope our tips are helpful for those with this condition-don’t wait until it’s too late!