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OneWellness January 18, 2023

Understanding Glaucoma: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Chioma Chukwunedu

Written by Adaobi Oduenyi

The term "glaucoma" is used to describe a variety of eye conditions that harm your optic nerve. It is the most typical type of optic nerve injury that causes vision loss. It usually has to do with an increase in pressure inside your eye.

The optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain, can be harmed by increasing Intraocular Pressure in your eye. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to total blindness or irreversible vision loss within a few years.

Most glaucoma sufferers don't experience any pain or early symptoms. Regular eye exams will enable your eye doctor to detect and treat glaucoma before it causes long-term vision loss.

It is impossible to regain vision once it has been lost. But reducing eye pressure can help you maintain your current level of vision. Most glaucoma patients who adhere to their medication schedule and receive frequent eye exams are able to maintain their vision.

“The most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma, which develops gradually and has no early symptoms. However, there are other forms of glaucoma that can develop suddenly and have symptoms such as eye pain and redness.“

Symptoms of Glaucoma

The majority of those who have Open-angle glaucoma exhibit no symptoms. The onset of symptoms is typically late in the course of the illness.

Due to this, glaucoma is frequently referred to as the "Silent Sight Stealer", the primary symptom is typically a loss of peripheral vision.

Angle-closure glaucoma symptoms typically appear sooner and are more pronounced. Damage may occur suddenly. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Seeing halos around lights

  • Vision loss

  • Redness in your eye

  • The eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)

  • Upset stomach or vomiting

  • Eye pain

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Causes of Glaucoma

A rise in Intraocular pressure, often known as eye pressure, is the most frequent cause of glaucoma (IOP). Loss of eyesight may result from this pressure injury to the optic nerve. Although the precise reason for the elevated pressure is not always clear, it is assumed to be connected to the regular fluid flow in the eye.

Risk Factors for Glaucoma

  • Age: The risk of glaucoma increases as people get older.

  • Family history: People with a family history of glaucoma are at a higher risk.

  • Ethnicity: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

  • Previous eye injuries or surgeries

  • High blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical conditions

Treatment Options

Treatment for glaucoma typically begins with medications to lower the pressure in the eye. These medications can be in the form of eye drops, pills, or a combination of both. If medications are not effective, laser surgery may be recommended. In more severe cases, traditional surgery may be necessary to create a new drainage channel for fluid in the eye.

Tips for Living With Glaucoma

Glaucoma requires ongoing follow-up visits with your eye doctor because it's a chronic condition. There are additional things you may do to support the health of your eyes.

Get physical:Regular exercise may help to maintain blood flow to your eye's nerves and minimize eye pressure. Consult your doctor about the appropriate fitness regimen for you because some activities can cause pressure to rise.

Eat healthily: Enjoy a balanced, nutritious diet. Although it won't stop your glaucoma from growing worse, it's essential to maintaining the health of your body and eyes. According to certain research, eating foods rich in antioxidants may be beneficial for glaucoma patients. Eat more foods high in nutrients, such as:

  • Dark, leafy greens

  • Fish that's packed with omega-3 fatty acids

Take your prescribed medications: Take your drops or pills precisely as prescribed. So that you don't forget, set a reminder on your watch or phone. Missing medication could worsen your glaucoma.

Don't smoke: Smoking also causes eye irritation and a rise in blood pressure. Your risk of diabetes and cataracts may increase as a result. Both are glaucoma risk factors. If you smoke, seek help from your doctor on how to stop.

Limit your caffeine: Be mindful of how much soft drinks, coffee, and tea you consume. Caffeine overuse can cause elevated eye pressure.

Elevate your head: When you are sleeping, use a wedge pillow. It will somewhat keep your head elevated. Your eye pressure should be decreased as a result.

Drink fluids slowly: Instead of reducing your consumption, spread out your drinks throughout the day. Your eyes may become fatigued if you consume a lot all at once. Instead, take little sips.

Protect your eyes:Sunglasses should always be worn outside, especially in the heat or near reflective surfaces like sand, snow, and water. Glare can be highly painful to eyes that have glaucoma.

Don't rub your eyes: Your medication may itch your eyes. Still, resist the desire. Scratching them will only make matters worse. Ask your doctor if you can cure dryness with drops.

Tips to prevent Glaucoma

Glaucoma cannot be prevented. However, you can reduce your risk of causing eye damage if you identify it quickly. These actions could aid in preserving your vision:

  • Get your eyes checked regularly:The earlier your doctor detects glaucoma symptoms, the sooner you can begin treatment. Every three to five years, people should all have glaucoma exams. 

Get a thorough eye check from a doctor every one to two years if you are over 40 and have a family history of the condition. You might need to attend more frequently if you have health issues like diabetes or are at risk for other eye illnesses.

  • Know your family history: Ask your relatives whether any of them have been diagnosed with glaucoma.

  • Follow your doctors instructions:If they find that you have high eye pressure, they might give you drops to prevent glaucoma.

  • Exercise: Do moderate activity like walking or jogging at least three times a week.

  • Protect your eyes: Use protective eyewear when playing sports or doing house chores

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