All About Glaucoma: Symptoms & Treatment Options In Singapore
Glaucoma refers to an eye disorder that damages the optic nerve. As the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts, it has been estimated that 60.5 million people were diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and primary angle-angle closure glaucoma (PACG) in 2010 - and this number has increased since.
Glaucoma is progressive optic nerve damage characterised by the loss of retinal nerve fibre layers and retinal ganglion cells, which are neurons that receive visual information from photoreceptors. This condition comes in two major types: primary and secondary glaucoma. Both primary and secondary glaucoma conditions are caused by excess pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). The eyes produce aqueous humour, a type of fluid that flows through the pupil to the front of the eye. Typically, the fluid leaves through a drainage canal between the iris and cornea. However, when this drainage canal becomes clogged, it builds up in the eye and increases the IOP, further damaging the optic nerve and causing irreversible vision loss.
Types of Glaucoma and their Symptoms
It is worth noting that there are several subtypes of glaucoma, some of which are:
Open-angle: Open-angle glaucoma occurs when tiny deposits build up in the eye’s drainage canals. Over the course of a few months or years, the deposits will cause fluid to build up and clog the drainage canals, gradually increasing the eye pressure. Unfortunately, this type of glaucoma is coined as the “silent thief of sight”. This means that these deposits can go unnoticed for years, and when an individual does register their gradual loss of vision, it may have been too late.
Closed-angle: Otherwise known as angle-closure, closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the angle between the iris and cornea is too narrow. When the angle becomes too narrow, the iris may become caught in the drainage canals, effectively blocking aqueous fluid from leaving the eye and causing increased intraocular pressure. Typically, the angle-closure display little to no symptoms before an attack, but some of which includes:
- pain in the eye or forehead
- red eyes
- decreased vision
- seeing rainbows
Normal-tension: The majority of glaucoma cases are caused by increased eye pressure, but some individuals with optic nerve damage possess normal or acute eye pressure. Symptoms include blind spots in their field of vision.
Congenital: Congenital glaucoma is developmental glaucoma that occurs before three years of age. These babies are born with abnormalities within the drainage canals, preventing adequate aqueous humour drainage.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Unfortunately, glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss and the likelihood of vision restoration is highly unlikely. That said, there are treatments that can help stop any additional eyesight loss. The goal of glaucoma is to remove the root cause: intraocular pressure. Glaucoma treatments include:
Eye drops/Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medicine to decrease fluids and increase drainage to alleviate the high eye pressure. There are multiple types of medications, including prescription eye drops or pills, and your doctor may offer one or a combination of these two. Since glaucoma is a lifelong condition, you will need to take them for life.
Laser treatment: Laser peripheral iridotomy is a laser procedure used to treat glaucoma. This laser treatment creates small holes in your iris to allow for increased fluid movement and improve fluid drainage. The opening created during this treatment is usually permanent, but follow-up laser treatments may be required.
Surgery: If you are experiencing chronic glaucoma, your doctor may suggest surgery to create a drainage path for the aqueous humour to flow through or destroy tissues responsible for the fluid build-up.
Reduce Your Risk of Glaucoma with EMME Visioncare
If you suspect you have glaucoma or are experiencing any of its symptoms, book a comprehensive eye exam at EMME Visioncare to . Regular eye exams are considered the first step in protecting your eyes’ overall health and wellness. Our team of experienced optometrists and opticians can help determine if your eye pressure is normal or high, and recommend treatment options or refer you to an eye specialist. Get in touch to learn more.