Glaucoma: Types, Age factor, eye pressure and Commonly asked questions

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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the disease of Optic nerve. Glaucoma damages your optic nerve causing blindness. Glaucoma is a leading cause of the blindness. The rise in fluid pressure inside the eye leads to glaucoma. The fluid is called “Aqueous humour”. The problem with the outflow of Aqueous humour causes the pressure inside the eyeball to rise up. The pressure inside the eye is called Intraocular Pressure(IOP). This starts the damaging cascade to the retina (Nerve fibre layer). Finally, the optic nerve is damaged. The damage from glaucoma can often be treated.

Intraocular pressure measurement of the patient, Photo By Fernando Yaacov Pena, IAPB WSD Photo Competition

Types of Glaucoma:

There are two major causes of glaucoma excluding the systemic, trauma and other minor causes.

1. Primary open-angle glaucoma(POAG):

The drainage system of the aqueous humour forms an angle like structure which determines the cause of glaucoma. This is the most common type of glaucoma. It happens gradually, where the eye does not drain fluid as well as it should (like a clogged drain). As a result, eye pressure builds and starts to damage the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma is painless and causes no vision changes at first. Regular eye exams are important to find early signs of damage to their optic nerve.

2. Angle-closure glaucoma / Narrow-angle glaucoma(ACG)

The colourful part of the eye called “IRIS” when becomes a hurdle in the drainage, it cause “ACG”. The angle becomes lesser than normal. The fluid cannot make its path out of the eyeball. The production doesn’t stop while drainage is stopped. This is an emergency condition as pressure rises quickly.

Open Angle Versus Angle Closure glaucoma angle
Open-Angle Versus Angle Closure

Symptoms of Glaucoma

POAG is totally asymptomatic. You don’t have any symptoms of open-angle glaucoma till you notice lose peripheral vision on advance stage. 
In case the of angle-closure glaucoma, Patient has some major symptoms :

  • Blurred Vision
  • Severe Eye Pain 
  • Headache
  • Nause (You feel sick to your stomach)
  • Vomiting
  • Rainbow-coloured rings or halos around lights (Due to swelling of Cornea)

Sign of Glaucoma

Your eye doctor examines the eye and finds out the change in the shape of an angle.

Patient with POAG has major changes in the colour, shape, depth, size of the head of Optic Nerve also called Optic disc. Intraocular pressure rises on angle-closure glaucoma. 

optic disc damage in glaucoma

Commonly asked questions about Glaucoma

1. How serious is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a silent killer of the eyes. It could lead to blindness in hours. If you have ACG, it is an emergency condition that needs treatment as soon as possible.

2. What is the average age to get glaucoma?

People over age 60 are at increased risk for this disease. African Americans, however, are at increased risk after age 40. The risk of developing glaucoma increases slightly with each year of age.

3. Can you go blind if you have glaucoma?

Yes, Glaucoma causes blindness. The rise in pressure inside the eyeball damage the optic nerve. The damage is irreversible. It is better to have a regular eye check-up. Your eye doctor can help you prevent attacks of glaucoma.
Blind person with white stick and dog

4. How long does it take to go blind from glaucoma?

One of the more recent studies published in 2013 estimated that 4 in 10 patients diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma (POAG) go blind in one eye, and 1 out of 6 (~16%) go blind in both eyes. Patient with Acute angle-closure glaucoma goes blind within hours if the Intra Ocular pressure is not reduced by medication.

headache in glaucoma

5. What happens if you have glaucoma?

If you have glaucoma, You will ultimately go blind in hours if you have a sudden attack of IOP rise or you could go blind without even knowing when you have primary open-angle glaucoma.

6. What vitamins are good for glaucoma?

Food containing Omega-3 fatty acid, Food Containing zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the most important nutrients that are good for eye health. 

7. What foods are good for glaucoma?  or What foods to eat to lower eye pressure?

Eat foods like spinach, collard greens, kale, yellow corn, okra, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mango, green beans, sweet potatoes, lima beans, squash, green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, eggs, fortified cereals, fruit, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts, nut oils, vegetable oils, carrots, mangoes, milk, egg yolks, oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, certain seafood, whole grains, wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. Visit with Glaucoma Specialist for the lowering of eye pressure. 
kale for glaucoma

8. Which foods and beverages to avoid if you have glaucoma?

Foods High in Saturated Fats and Trans Fats, Caffeine, Carbohydrates, Alcoholic beverages.

saturated fat

9. Can glaucoma be reversed?

The damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed. Blindness due to Glaucoma cannot be reversed in any condition.

10. Can glaucoma be caused by stress?

Stress may play a part in the precipitation of acute closed-angle glaucoma because Intraocular pressure (IOP) can be affected by the emotional state of the patient says a study journal by “US NIH”.

Intra ocular pressure examination
Measuring Intraocular Pressure using an applanation tonometer

11. Can glaucoma be stopped?

While there are no known ways of preventing glaucoma, blindness or significant vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented if the disease is recognized in the early stages. Glaucoma medications slow the progression of glaucoma by reducing elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) to prevent damage to the optic nerve.

12. How do you avoid getting glaucoma?

  • Get regular eye exams.
  • Know your family’s eye health history
  • Take prescribed eyedrops only
  • Wear eye protection
  • Do regular exercise
  • Avoid bad eating habits 
    A blind person due to glaucoma
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