Glaucoma is a common condition that affects the major nerve running directly behind your eye. This nerve is very important as it translates the images we see into neural signals that can be read and interpreted by the brain. Damage to this nerve causes very poor eyesight and unfortunately there is no cure for this condition. However there are now some very good treatments that can slow down damage, or even stop it completely, this article will look discuss these treatments and give you an outline of what glaucoma really is.
Glaucoma can either come on over a long period of time or it can come on suddenly. This article looks at the form that comes on over a longer period of time. However it is very important to note that if your eye becomes very painful all of a sudden and your vision goes a bit funny whereby it may look blurry or you may notice rings around light bulbs, then you need to visit your doctor immediately as you may have sudden onset glaucoma.
Glaucoma affects your eye because the eyeball itself is filled with fluid and can only sustain a certain pressure. In glaucoma this pressure increases and has nowhere to go except for towards the nerve that sits at the back of the eye. Unfortunately nerves do not respond well to pressure and in the case of this nerve your vision can be impaired and irreversibly damaged if nothing is done. Interestingly you don’t even have to have a pressure build up in order to get glaucoma and this comes about because some people have extremely sensitive nerves. When you go to the doctor and they take a history that sounds like you may have glaucoma, they will use a special instrument to measure the pressure in your eye. If this pressure is to high then there are treatments that can be given to reduce this pressure and hopefully save your eyesight.
So now you are probably worried that this might happen to you. Well the reality is that this is a common condition and one should be aware of the symptoms. The first thing that people notice is usually small blind spots right near the edge of the visual field. These spots become bigger if you are not started on treatment until you will only be able to see things that are right in front of you. Things that can make vision worse is when someone with glaucoma moves from a room full of light into a dark one. Some people have trouble judging distance and can have falls. The loss of vision associated with this type of glaucoma is usually very slow and can occur over years. In fact many people have no idea they have it for a long time as it causes no pain and only affects vision after quite a while. You can get it in both of your eyes at the same time or you must just get it in one eye.
So we have mentioned treatments that work quite well for this condition. Perhaps now is the time to start talking about what they are. Eye drops are effective in reducing the pressure in the eyeball, which will hopefully stop your vision getting worse. In fact these drops even help those people who get glaucoma but have normal pressure in their eyes. Beta-blockers are the first line drug of choice that as mentioned comes in the form of an eye drop. Another eye drop medication that is popular is known as a prostaglandin analogue. Many people have to try different types of drugs until the find the magic one that works for them, or they may even need to use more than one at a time. Like all medications these are not without their own set of side effects and people complain of a stinging or even burning feeling in their eyes after putting the drops in. This feeling can often be helped by pushing gently on your tear duct on the side of the eye (on the nose side) for a couple of minutes after putting the drops in. Beta-blockers are used in people with heart trouble to lower blood pressure and so this can be a side effect of these types of eye drops. You should visit your doctor if you notice side effects from the medication but do not stop taking your medications until you have met with the doctor.
Another form of treatment that can be done is with a laser and in this case this form of treatment is often combined with an eye drop medication. How the laser works is that it increases the size of the holes that usually drain the fluid out of the eye as more fluid is made. You should not worry about this treatment as anesthetic drops are used and so it is not a painful procedure. Surgery is the final frontier in terms of treatment and the operation in this case is called a trabeculectomy, which will also lower the pressure in the eye. This is a relatively quick procedure taking about an hour and you will more than likely go home on the same day. The side effects from surgery is that you may get a blind spot in the middle of your vision and you are also more likely to get cataracts following this type of surgery. These side effects are not common and are more likely to occur if you have severe disease and also cataracts are easily treated with another operation that takes about fifteen minutes.
Now you should know that glaucoma is a disease that will be with you for a long time. Because of this you will need regular check ups and treatments will need to be taken for as long as you live. Unfortunately if you do not follow this then you will slowly but surely lose your vision. Fortunately most people with glaucoma do not go blind and treatments are very effective. Remember that as soon as you notice any changes in your vision you need to get your eyes checked, vision is a very important thing to have.