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Vishnu Eye Clinic - Laser Foundation : Patient Education

What is Glaucoma?

The optic nerve carries information from the eye to the brain, and is located in the back of the eye. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve.  It is characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve of the eye, the most common cause being increased pressure in the eye.  
In fact glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. At first, patients lose side (peripheral) vision. But if the disease is not treated, vision loss may worsen, leading to total blindness over time.

The most common forms of Glaucoma are:

1. Open angle glaucoma
In this form of painless glaucoma, the optic nerve gets damaged bit by bit, and slowly leads to loss of eyesight. One eye may be affected more than the other. Often, much of your eyesight may be lost before you notice it.

2. Angle closure glaucoma
In this type of glaucoma, the colored part of the eye (iris) and the lens block movement of fluid between the chambers of your eye. This causes pressure build up and the iris to press on the drainage system of the eye.

A related type is sudden (acute) closed-angle glaucoma. It is often an emergency and usually painful. If you get this acute form, you will need medical care right away to prevent permanent damage to your eye.

Who does glaucoma affect?

People above the age of 40 years need to undergo routine eye examinations to rule out glaucoma.
Those with a family history of glaucoma, diabetes, systemic hypertension, thyroid disorders and myopia are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

How is it treated?

Most of the glaucomas require treatment and follow-up life long, and the damage that occurs is irreversible.
Most commonly your doctor will prescribe eyedrops to decrease the intraocular pressure in your eye.
These drops usually need to be used lifelong much like the drugs that you may use for your diabetes or hypertension You may also need laser treatment or surgery.
In adults, treatment can't bring back vision that has been lost, but it can keep your vision from getting worse. Treatment aims to stop more damage to the optic nerve by lowering the pressure in the eyes.

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