Glaucoma

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Did you know that glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide? So what is glaucoma?

 

Definition

Glaucoma is an eye ailment that occurs when the pressure within the eye—intraocluar pressure (IOP)—is high for prolonged periods, resulting in permanent and irreversible vision loss.

Risk factors

  1. Pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure): The principal cause of glaucoma is high pressure in the eye. Pressure increases when there is an imbalance between the production and drainage of the fluid naturally produced by the eye.
  2. Structure and blood supply of the optic disc:  In some patients, the eye pressure is within the normal range but they still develop damage due to variations in the structure and blood supply of the optic nerve.
  3. Family history of glaucoma: Having an immediate relative with the disease significantly increases the risk. Anyone with a family history should have regular eye checkups upon reaching the age of 35.
  4. Age: The incidence of glaucoma increases with age.
  5. Other associated conditions: Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and shortsightedness may increase the risk of glaucoma.

Symptoms

There are usually no symptoms, until it is too late. Therefore, early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to preventing glaucoma-related blindness.

Prevention

There is no known prevention for glaucoma, thus it is vital to catch the disease early so as to prevent glaucoma-related blindness.

Treatment

The aim of treatment is to decrease the pressure inside the eye so as to reduce stress on the optic nerve, which in turn slows down or stops any further nerve damage. It entails:

  1. Use of eye drops: Eye drops are usually the first line of treatment for glaucoma. There are various types of eye drops that can be used.
  2. Surgery: This can be used to control pressure inside the eye but is generally used only when eye drops have proven unsatisfactory. In this procedure known as trabeculectomy, an alternative drainage pathway is created.

To note: Once glaucoma is diagnosed, ongoing management and treatment is required throughout life because fluctuations in eye pressure are damaging. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that eye drops are taken regularly, as missed doses can be harmful. Remember, prevention of damage is the only way to avoid vision loss; once damage has occurred, it is permanent and irreversible.

Frequently asked question(s)

  1. Do I have to get up at night to take my glaucoma eye drops? No. Having an undisturbed night is more important. If you have to take drops more than twice a day, put the drops in when you get up and when you go to bed and then space the other drops in between during the day. Always wait for 5–10 minutes if putting more than one drop.

For more information on glaucoma, you can contact us via: info@cityeyehospital.or.ke.

If you need medical attention due to glaucoma or any other eye condition, talk to us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya. 

 

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