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Definition of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye.

Glaucoma should be treated at the right time, because vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be reversed. The key to this is to have regular eye exams, and check for eye pressure. The maximum that can be done to treat glaucoma once a patient has it, is to slow down the process and the resultant blindness.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Depending on the type and stage of glaucoma, the symptoms are divided into:

Open-angle glaucoma symptoms

  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
  • Patchy blind spots in the side (peripheral) or central vision frequently in both eyes

Acute angle-closure glaucoma symptoms

  • Severe headache
  • Halo around lights
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Risk Factors of Glaucoma

A person may be at a higher risk of getting glaucoma with the following conditions:

  • Has high internal eye pressure
  • Is over the age of 60
  • Is black or Hispanic
  • Has a family history of glaucoma
  • Has existing medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell anaemia, high blood pressure
  • Has existing eye conditions such as near-sightedness
  • Has oestrogen deficiency for example when both ovaries are removed before age 43
  • Has been taking corticosteroid medication such as eye drops for a long time

Diagnosis of Glaucoma

In order to diagnose glaucoma, the doctor will review the Patient’s medical history and conduct complete eye examination. This will include tests such as:

  • Checking for optic nerve damage
  • Measuring intraocular pressure (tonometry)
  • Measuring corneal thickness (pachymetry)
  • Checking for areas of vision loss (visual field test)
  • Inspecting the drainage angle (gonioscopy)

Treatment of Glaucoma

The damage caused by glaucoma can't be reversed. But treatment and regular checks can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if one catches the disease in its early stage. The following treatment may be given to control glaucoma:

Medication:

These include eye-drops such as prostaglandins, beta blockers, Alpha-adrenergic agonists, Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, Miotic or cholinergic agents.

If the eye drops do not work, the doctor may prescribe oral medication as well. This is usually a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor.

Surgery:

  • Laser trabeculoplasty is an option for people with open angle glaucoma.
  • Filtering surgery is the removal of part of the trabecular meshwork
  • Drainage tubes is the inserting a small tube in the eye
  • Electrocautery is the removal of tissue from the trabecular mesh work

In case of acute angle-closure glaucoma, the Patient will need urgent treatment to reduce the pressure in the eye. This generally will require both medication and laser or other surgical procedures.

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