Intraocular pressure is the cause behind several types of eye disorders that fall under the umbrella category of Glaucoma. In increased pressure inside the eye can cause serious damage to the optic nerve within the eye. The nerve is responsible for the transmission of visual data that is interpreted by the brain.
The first indication that something is amiss is when the eye disorder has negative effects on the peripheral field of vision. Somewhat sinuous, Glaucoma can cause considerable eyesight loss long before you suspect there is an issue. If the Glaucoma is not treated it will eventually lead to total and irreparable vision loss.
In the United States, Glaucoma is cited as the second biggest cause of total vision loss. As many as 2.5 million US citizens have been affected by Glaucoma. The numbers are expected to increase and by 2020, some 3 million US citizens will have to deal with glaucoma and its side effects.
This eye condition is sometimes considered the “thief in the night” or the “silent disease” since there is minimal symptoms and the condition does not cause pain in the sufferer. Thus, Glaucoma can easily go unchecked until it is too late and the optic never is permanently damaged. The vision loss at that point will vary upon disease severity and the individual.
There are several types of glaucoma, in particular, acute angle closure glaucoma, of which there are some symptoms. The signs of the latter condition include the appearance of halos of light, blurred vision, pain in the affected eye, nausea, and vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, you need to seek out medical assistance immediately. Doing so will help in preventing total and irreversible vision loss.
This disease results in the imbalance of the fluid that drains away from your eye and that which remains inside the eye’s interior. There are several underlying conditions that can trigger this imbalance – the underlying condition defines the glaucoma type you are dealing with and will have to treat.
A football or basketball needs full pressure to keep it in its round shape. The same goes for your eyes – the fluid in the eye creates pressure to ensure that the eye remains in a globe shape. When glaucoma occurs, the disease destroys the structures inside the eye and the ability for the eye to retain intraocular pressure. With this issue, the pressure inside the eye can become excessively high and in turn, you suffer from vision loss due to the intensity of interior eye pressure.
Two chief types of the disorder exist: primary open-angle (chronic) and angle-closure glaucoma (acute). In the latter, the term “angle” is a reference to the fluid draining structure in the eye’s interior, located between the eye’s front surface along the cornea’s periphery and the iris. Below are a few of the most common kinds of glaucoma:
Acute angle-closure: (also called narrow angle glaucoma) starts out with the onset of symptoms that appear suddenly. Such signs include nausea, vomiting, red eyes, vision loss, dilated pupils, and halos appearing around the lights you see, headaches, and pain in the eyes. The symptoms last a couple of hours, stop, and the come back again. With each round of symptoms, you are losing some of your eyesight.
Congenital: This is a form of hereditary glaucoma and occurs at birth. Most patients who have congenital glaucoma are diagnosed with the condition by the first year of age. The child who has this condition has a narrow angle or is born with a drainage system defect. This disease is hard to spot because kids are so young and they cannot express what it is they are enduring. If you see your child’s eye protruding, enlarged, hazy looking, cloudy, or white, you need to bring the child to an eye doctor immediately. This condition is more common in males than females.
Normal-tension: Sometimes called low pressure, tension or normal glaucoma, is an eye condition featuring an open angle glaucoma that destroys the optic nerve and causes peripheral vision loss. The internal pressure inside the eye remains normal. The sufferer is unlikely to experience any kind of discomfort, and often one of the first signs indicating the condition is the onset of tunnel vision.
Pigmentary: This is a unusual and rare form of the eye condition involving pigmentation from the iris. The pigment deposits from the colored part of the eye end up clogging the draining angles and, in turn, it stops the fluid draining out of the eye. The only common symptoms associated with this issue include discomfort or pain following exercise and blurred vision. This disease occurs primarily in men ages 35 to 45 years of age.
Primary open angle: More than 50% of all US citizens who have this type of glaucoma, which happens to be chronic, are not aware they have the condition. Sometimes called POAG for short, this glaucoma type develops painlessly and slowly as it diminishes your peripheral vision over the course of time. The internal pressure inside the eye is high and as the disease progresses it can cause tunnel vision, allowing the suffer to only see things within the field of vision that lies straight ahead.
Secondary: This type of glaucoma occurs after a serious injury to the eye, but it can also occur with the presence of a cataract that has enlarged, tumor, inflammation, or infection. Whatever causes glaucoma of the normal tension variation has not been identified at this time. Some doctors assert it is due to reduced blood flow in the eye’s optic nerve. The condition occurs most often in Japanese people, women, and anyone who may have a vascular disease history.
The tonometer is a tool that the doctor will use to take a measurement of the intraocular pressure. You will have drops put in your eyes that numb them and a tiny probe is placed against the surface of your eye. Some tonometers push a air into the eye in an effort to measure the intraocular pressure less directly.
If a reading comes out high, it is indicative of excessive pressure in the eye’s interior. Thus, the eye is not draining as it should or there is too much fluid being produced, either of which can increase intraocular pressure.
SLP – Scanning laser polarimetry, confocal scanning laser ophthamoscopy, and optical coherence tomography are all methods for taking images of the optic eye in the interior of the eye. The images can be taken over a period of time to monitor the nerve for any changes that may suggest the presence of progressive glaucoma damage.
With the use of visual field tests, a doctor can determine if you are experiencing blind spots brought on by optic nerve damage incited by glaucoma. The Visual Field test requires you look into a machine and watch for black dots to appear. Whenever the dots appear, you are asked to click on a button. The test can be repeated to monitor your vision over time.
The ophthalmoscope is a device the doctor can use in order to see eye structures inside the eye and to check on the health of the drainage angle in the eye is interior. Alternatively, an ultrasound biomicroscope helps in determining how well the fluid inside the eye moves through the inside structures. Finally, a gionoscopy requires the use of a lens the doctor will use to view the inside of the drainage controlling structures within the eye.
Glaucoma & Treatment
The severity of the eye disease will determine the necessary course of treatment. The common forms of treatment include laser procedures, bladed surgical procedures, and the use of medications. There are special drops that can be put in the eyes that help in diminishing the intraocular pressure, and conservative approaches are used first before more invasive measures of treatment are tried.
The eye condition is not commonly associated with pain, so sometimes people do not remain diligent about eye drop use, and the neglect of the eye will result in permanent and irreversible vision damage. In truth, when a person does not follow through with treatment they are one of many who fail to do so and end up with blindness as a result. In the event a doctor prescribes drops to you for the treatment of glaucoma never stop using them, even if you find them uncomfortable, unless you have been otherwise advised.
Non-laser and laser surgeries are performed to improve one of two end results: the drainage outflow in the eye and to minimize the excess of intraocular fluid. In some cases, a procedure is performed to minimize eye pressure and to improve drainage flow simultaneously. In getting the pressure inside the eye stabilized, it minimizes the possibility of the optic nerve being damaged.
The Importance of Early Treatment
The early you are diagnosed with an issue related to glaucoma, the better off you will be. You should visit your eye doctor on a regular basis to ensure eye health through an eye examination and through IOP checks.
Frequent visits to the eye specialist are something certain individuals should adhere to, including people with increased intraocular pressure, the elderly, those with a familial history of glaucoma, and the unusual appearance of the optic nerve, need to confer with a physician regularly.