Glaucoma is a serious and rare condition of the eye where the optic nerve is damaged resulting in loss of side or peripheral vision, tunnel vision and blindness. In a normal eye, there is a small anterior chamber filled with clear fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid flows out of an open angle (drainage angle) between the iris (colored portion of eye ball) and the cornea. At the open angle the fluid flows out of the eye through a spongy network. If there is a reduction in the flow of fluid at this position, it raises the pressure in the eye called intraocular pressure (IOP), damages the optic nerve and causes glaucoma. Glaucoma can affect both eyes.
Optic nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that carries signals from the retina of the eye to the brain which are processed as images. Damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed. Hence, there is no cure for glaucoma as the lost vision cannot be restored. However, early diagnosis and detection can preserve your vision and prevent vision loss.
The different types of glaucoma are:
When the iris completely blocks the drainage angle, the IOP rises very fast and causes a closed angle glaucoma attack. This is a medical emergency requiring prompt treatment. The symptoms of this attack include:
People suffering from closed angle glaucoma should avoid decongestants and other medications that carry the warning that they should not be used in closed angle glaucoma.
The signs and symptoms differ with the type of glaucoma. However, there are no signs and symptoms in early stages of glaucoma. Thereafter, a person may develop black spots in vision, loss of peripheral vision, colored halos, see rainbow colors, have headaches, and develop tunnel vision or blindness.
Since glaucoma does not present with early signs and symptoms, it is detected through a detailed eye examination that includes the following tests:
Glaucoma can be treated with medicines and surgery.