Glaucoma is perhaps the most well known of all vision-threatening eye diseases. The subject of many national awareness campaigns, charitable initiatives, and research, glaucoma is a serious eye disease that demands your respect.
Sometimes called “the silent thief of sight” or “sight’s sneaky thief”, glaucoma has earned its reputation due to the slow and irreversible changes it causes to your vision. It is most famous for causing “tunnel vision”. Its onset can be so subtle that almost half of all people with glaucoma don’t even realize they have it.
Glaucoma Causes & Symptoms
As with many serious eye diseases, glaucoma’s symptoms are generally absent (with the exception of acute angle-closure glaucoma, explained in more detail below).
Glaucoma is linked to your intraocular eye pressure, though forms of it can also develop despite normal eye pressure. It damages your optic nerve, and without treatment, will eventually lead to blindness.
Studies have shown that people that lead active lives are 25% less likely to develop glaucoma compared to those who do not. Additional lifestyle factors that influence glaucoma are:
- Being overweight
- Eating a poor diet
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is actually a group of related eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. There are many types of glaucoma, with the most common being:
- Open-angle glaucoma – The most common form of glaucoma (by far), open-angle glaucoma is often discovered after it has already caused some degree of tunnel vision.
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma – This rare variant of glaucoma is marked by painful symptoms:
- Eye pain
- Halos around light sources
- Vomiting, nausea
- Dilated pupils
If you are experiencing the symptoms above, seek immediate medical assistance. You are experiencing a medical emergency that requires intervention.
- Normal-tension glaucoma – So named because it develops despite eye pressure falling within normal ranges. The cause of this version of glaucoma is not known.
- Congenital glaucoma – Present since birth, this type of glaucoma is usually due to improperly formed drainage canals in the eye.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be managed successfully most of the time. Management generally centres around controlling eye pressure. There are both surgical and non-surgical management techniques, with surgery becoming an option if nonsurgical methods have failed to manage the disease.
One of the major reasons glaucoma causes blindness is due to non-compliance with the management program.
Learn more about how we treat & manage glaucoma.
Non-Surgical Management of Glaucoma via Eye Drops
This is always the first step in any glaucoma management program. Specialized eye drops control your intraocular pressure, controlling and effectively managing glaucoma. For most people, this is the extent of management methods used to control their glaucoma.
If you are taking eye drops to manage your glaucoma and find them uncomfortable, do not discontinue use until after you have spoken with our Optometrist.
Surgical Treatments for Glaucoma
There are numerous surgical (both traditional and laser) options for treating glaucoma. These surgeries are generally centred around decreasing the production of aqueous humour (the fluid in your eye) or increasing your eye’s ability to properly drain.