Glaucoma… The Silent Thief of Sight

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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of related eye disorders that all cause damage to the optic nerve. The Optic Nerve carries information on vision from the eye to the brain.

Because most cases of glaucoma have few or no early symptoms, about half of the people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. For this reason, glaucoma often progresses undetected until the optic nerve already has been irreversibly damaged, with varying degrees of permanent vision loss.

The two most common types of Glaucoma are:

Primary open-angle glaucoma. This common type of glaucoma gradually reduces your peripheral vision without other symptoms. By the time you notice it, permanent damage already has occurred, because the Optic Nerve has been permanently damaged. By doing various Glaucoma Eye Tests the Optometrist or Ophthalmologist can detect signs to prevent Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma.

*Acute angle-closure glaucoma. This form of glaucoma produces sudden symptoms such as eye pain, headaches, halos around lights, dilated pupils, vision loss, red eyes, nausea and vomiting. These signs constitute a medical emergency. The attack may last for a few hours, and then return again for another round, or it may be continuous without relief. Each attack can cause progressively more vision loss.

Who are Most likely to have Glaucoma?
• People of African/ Caribbean Descent over age 40
• Everyone over age 60.
• People with a Family History of Glaucoma

What tests should your Optical Care Provider do to check for Symptoms of Glaucoma?
• A Regular Eye Examination is important.The optometrist uses ophthalmoscopy to check the Optic disc at the back of the eye to see if there has been any “cupplng” distortions, created by pressure.
• A test is done using a tonometer. This checks the pressure in the eye which can be raised by a build up of too much fluid in the eye.
• Depending on the results of the Ophthalmoscopy and Tonometer, the Optometrist may recommend a visual field test, which will show if any peripheral Vision has been lost
• The Ophthalmologist can also do a Pachymeter test. This determines the thickness of the cornea.The thinner the cornea the more care has to be taken with regard to accurate tests of the eye pressure using the Tonometer. The Ophthalmologist may do several pressure checks to ensure the reading is accurate.
• The Ophthalmologist may also do a Gionoscopy test. This is using a special lens to see the outflow of the aqueous liquid in your eye and determine if there are any blockages, which are causing the build up of fluid pressure.
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Treatment for Glaucoma
If a family member has Glaucoma it is important that all members of the family receive regular annual eye examinations,to ensure there are no Glaucoma symptoms .
• The first step in Glaucoma treatment is eye drops to reduce the build up of fluid pressure. The more commonly used eye drops now cost $15 ecd and Last approximately one month. These should not be missed. Check if your Optometrist keeps a full stock of these Eyedrops for easy replacement
Full instructions will be given on how to use the eyedrops. Stopping use the prescribed eye drops is often the main cause of Vision Loss in Glaucoma
• If the outflow of aqueous liquid is being blocked a surgery procedure to open the trabulectomy mesh work can be performed. This procedure can also be done using laser.
• In some cases a small stent has to be inserted in the outflow meshwork to prevent any further blockages.

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