Also known as Open-angle glaucoma; Chronic glaucoma; Closed-angle glaucoma; Congenital glaucoma; Angle closure glaucoma.
Glaucoma is used to describe a group of eye conditions that affect vision (often affects both eyes), particularly damage to the optic nerve. If untreated in time and in a right way,Glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma has 4 main types, they are:
- Chronic open-angle glaucoma: this is the most common type of glaucoma and develops very slowly.
- Primary angle-closure glaucoma: this is rare and can occur slowly (chronic) or may develop rapidly (acute) with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye.
- Secondary glaucoma: this occurs as a result of an eye injury or another eye condition, such as uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye).
- Developmental glaucoma (congenital glaucoma): this is rare but can be serious. It is usually present at birth or develops shortly after birth. It is caused by an abnormality of the eye.
Symptoms of glaucoma
The symptoms differ among the 4 types of glaucoma.
In cases of chronic glaucoma, there are usually no noticeable symptoms because the condition develops very slowly. People with this type of glaucoma often do not realise that their sight is being damaged. This is because the first part of the eye to be affected is the outer field of vision (peripheral vision). Vision is lost from the outer rim of the eye, slowly working inwards towards the centre.
If suffering from acute angle-closure glaucoma, the symptoms often develops more rapid and more severe. They include:
- intense pain
- redness of the eye
- tender eye area
- seeing halos or ‘rainbow-like’ rings around lights
- misty vision
- loss of vision in one or both eyes that progresses very quickly
As a result of these symptoms, some people may also feel sick or be sick.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by other conditions or eye injuries, such as uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye). It is possible for the symptoms of glaucoma to be confused with the symptoms of the other condition. For example, uveitis often causes painful eyes and headaches.
The last type – Developmental glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) , the patient commonly experiences the following signs:
- large eyes due to the pressure in the eyes causing them to expand
- being sensitive to light (photophobia)
- having a cloudy appearance to their eyes
- having watery eyes
- jerky movements of the eyes
- having a squint, which is an eye condition that causes one of the eyes to turn inwards, outwards or upwards, while the other eye looks forward
Open-angle glaucoma treatment:
Most people with open-angle glaucoma can be treated successfully with eye drops. Most eye drops used today have fewer side effects than those used in the past. You may need more than one type of drop. Some patients may also be treated with pills to lower pressure in the eye. Newer drops and pills are being developed that may protect the optic nerve from glaucoma damage.
Some patients will need other forms of treatment, such as a laser treatment, to help open the fluid outflow channels. This procedure is usually painless. Others may need traditional surgery to open a new outflow channel.
Angle-closure glaucoma treatment:
Acute angle-closure attack is a medical emergency. Blindness will occur in a few days if it is not treated. Drops, pills, and medicine given through a vein (by IV) are used to lower pressure. Some people also need an emergency operation, called an iridotomy. This procedure uses a laser to open a new channel in the iris. The new channel relieves pressure and prevents another attack.
Congenital glaucoma treatment:
This form of glaucoma is almost always treated with surgery to open the outflow channels of the angle. This is done while the patient is asleep and feels no pain (with anesthesia).