Be alert of Glaucoma!

Do you have migraine, severe headaches, Myopia of over 600 degrees or family glaucoma history? While they frequently go unnoticed, these are the risk factors of developing Glaucoma. But what is glaucoma, how is it caused and what can be done to treat or prevent it?

Glaucoma, “Sight’s Silent Thief”?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is usually related to raised eye pressure. As early-stage Glaucoma has no obvious symptoms, it is often chillingly referred as “Sight’s Silent Thief”. While the disease most frequently strikes the optic nerve with raises eye pressure, even those with seemingly “normal range” eye pressure if they have weak optic nerves, they may still suffer from progressive visual impairment caused by a relatively “normal range” eye pressure. Without timely proper treatment, Glaucoma patients’ vision will gradually deteriorate over time.

Is Glaucoma the same as “Green Light Eye”?

Although the Cantonese for Glaucoma is Ching Gwong Ngaan (literally “Green Light Eye”), sufferers’ eyes will not turn green. The name originated from an ancient belief that Glaucoma-affected eyes would reflect blue green when light was shone onto their pupils.

The image gallery below shows vision loss caused by glaucoma over time.

How many types of Glaucoma are there?

Glaucoma is classified into three types:

  • Open Angle Glaucoma (chronic)

Although most Open Angle Glaucoma cases are chronic from their earliest stages, patients usually experience no obvious symptoms. As a result, it is vital that we get our eyes checked before our vision starts to deteriorate.

  • Angle Closure Glaucoma (acute or chronic)

Most commonly found amongst middle-aged Chinese females, Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma’s most obvious symptoms include eye pain, blurring of vision, red eyes, headache and vomiting, etc. As the eye pressure is likely to increase rapidly, sufferers are advised to immediately consult an eye doctor and have the excess pressure reduced. The Chronic form of the disease may result from Acute Angle Closure attack or occur primarily. The chronic form may have no symptoms and is often detected late.

  • Glaucoma resulting from other diseases

As all types of Glaucoma can permanently damage the eyes, early detection and treatment is crucial.

CAUSES OF GLAUCOMA

There are a number of risk factors which can cause the development of glaucoma. These include:

  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Increasing age
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Ethnic background
  • Eye injury
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • High myopia (shortsightedness)

How to diagnose Glaucoma?

The best way to safeguard oneself against Glaucoma is to undergo regular eye checks. In addition to optic nerve examinations, typical tests will include eye pressure and visual field measurement. Early detection is vital if the disease’s progress is to be slowed down or stopped. People over the age of 40 or other high risk individuals (e.g. those with a family history of Glaucoma or Myopia of 600 degrees or over) are recommended to commence comprehensive regular eye examinations as early as possible.

Eye patient.

People over the age of 40 or other high risk individuals are recommended to commence comprehensive regular eye examinations as early as possible.

Can Glaucoma be cured?

While Glaucoma is incurable, early detection and treatment should spare sufferers from further loss of vision. Currently, the most effective Glaucoma treatment involves aggressively lowering the eye pressure to normal levels via the use of laser or non-invasive surgery, eye drops or combination of the three. As the simplest and most widely used treatment, eyedrop may come in preservative-free and single-use formulations that reduce eye irritation and side effects. Depending on the severity of the cases, doctors can also lower patients’ intraocular pressure and prevent further visual damage via laser treatment, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery or a combination of various therapies.