Is your eyesight slowly blurring? It may be a sign of the dreaded disease called glaucoma. As the darkness of glaucoma ruins the quality of life for you and your family, it’s most dire effects can be temporarily circumvented with proper knowledge of what it is.
Glaucoma is an incurable eye disease that gradually steals vision. This means that as your days pass, blindness slowly take over a person’s life. Save what was left of your eyesight. Have yourself or your love ones check before its too late.
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which is the cable that connects the eye to the brain. Damage to this very crucial nerve is permanent and causes shrinking of the visual field, leading to blindness.
In the Philippines, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. As an advocacy against glaucoma, the Philippine Glaucoma Society is aggressively promoting awareness of the disease in the country in partnership with Allergan.
How exactly can you know that you have glaucoma already? You can’t. Only your doctor can pinpoint exactly if it truly is glaucoma that is ruining your eyesight as symptoms of the disease may not be apparent in the early stages.
Although mostly asymptomatic early on, a small percentage of cases of glaucoma have episodes of eye and head pain, blurred vision, redness, headache, vomiting and seeing rainbows around lights.
Patients who have high eye pressure, family history of glaucoma, are aged over 45 years old, previous eye injury, chronic steroid use, diabetes mellitus, or Asian descent have a higher risk of getting glaucoma.
High eye pressure
The normal range of eye pressure is 10-21 millimeters of mercury. Your doctor measures your eye pressure using a special instrument called a tonometer.
Eye pressure alone does not cause glaucoma; however, it is the most significant risk factor for the disease. If diagnosed with high eye pressure, it is smart to frequently get comprehensive eye examinations to check for signs of glaucoma. It is only the only risk factor that can be modified with treatment.
Patients with diabetes are also at high risk of getting the incurable eye disease. This is by virtue of the two diseases occurring in a similar age group (>50 years). There is also a certain type of glaucoma resulting from diabetic complications in the retina. This usually occurs in long-standing uncontrolled diabetes.
Open-angle glaucoma, one of the most common types of glaucoma, is hereditary. If you have immediate family members with glaucoma, you are more susceptible to the disease compared to those without it.
There are many studies that show the relationship between the chronic use of steroids and glaucoma. Long-term steroid use may cause elevation of the eye pressure and cause glaucomatous damage to the optic nerve. Common indications for steroids are asthma, arthritis, severe allergies, eczematous skin conditions. If you are being given steroids for more than 1 month ask to be referred to an eye doctor for measurement of eye pressure.
A previous eye injury also makes a patient susceptible to glaucoma. Injuries that penetrate the eye may damage the drainage channels of the eye causing high eye pressure. Common causes of these are sports-related injuries.
There is no cure yet for glaucoma. The only thing that you and your doctor can do is slow down the damage that glaucoma causes on not only your vision but also your life.
Remember, for glaucoma, early detection is the only solution. Visit your doctor and find out if glaucoma is already ruining your sight.