Glaucoma is an eye disease that is usually caused by an increase in eye pressure and requires professional monitoring and specific treatment. What are the symptoms? How is it detected? What are the factors of chronic glaucoma? Dr. Stephanie Zwillinger’s COP9 team will provide you with all the answers you need and more: it is one of their specialties!
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a chronic disease caused by lesions in the optic nerve at the back of the eyeball. This progressive destruction causes irreversible alterations to the nerve endings. Both eyes can be affected at the same time by this ophthalmologic disease.
It can cause a loss of vision because it leads to an obstruction of the filter for the evacuation of the aqueous humor, the trabecular meshwork. The pressure deforms the optic disc and causes damage to the optic nerve. Ocular hypertension is then observed. The visual field deteriorates leading to blindness.
In order to control the progression, Dr. Stephanie Zwillinger and her COP9 team invite you to have early and regular screening.
There are three forms:
- Open angle glaucoma: the most common, with elevated eye pressure and slow progression of the disease
- Angle-closure glaucoma: the rarest, with ocular hypertonia and a very rapid progression of the eye disease
- Congenital glaucoma: a rare disease resulting from an increase in intraocular pressure, detected during the first year following birth. It requires surgery by a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Progressively modifying the visual field, this degeneration can be slowed down by an ophthalmologist check up. Do not hesitate to make an appointment at the slightest symptom, which you will discover below.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The symptoms of glaucoma are sometimes difficult to detect since the evolution of the pressure can take many years. However, it is important to be aware of the different early signs of the ocular pathology in order to avoid any risk of uncontrolled deterioration:
- Eye pain
- A blurred and unclear field of vision
- A decrease in peripheral visual acuity, with normal central vision.
If you find that a friend or family member over the age of 40 :
- is moving closer and closer to television
- Uses glasses or magnifiers but points out that it doesn’t work
- No longer goes anywhere, or very little, especially at night
- Can’t find their belongings even though they’re close by
- Becomes clumsy.
If you notice any of the above symptoms or abnormalities, do not hesitate to make a preventive appointment. Your specialized ophthalmologist will be able to examine the optic nerve.
How to detect glaucoma?
Your ophthalmologist will perform a series of visual field examinations to screen for glaucoma. The ophthalmic check-up includes a clinical examination and many complementary tests:
- A slit lamp examination to analyze the ocular surface after the instillation of eye drops
- Tonometry test which measures the intraocular pressure
- A OCT or a fundus eye test to observe the optic nerve head
- Pachymetry test to know the thickness of the cornea
Other examinations are performed by your eye care professional. We have presented the instruments of the ophthalmologist in this article, if you want to know more.
Glaucoma: risk factors
Dr. Zwillinger’s COP9 team draws your attention to the following risk factors:
- Age: over 40, think to get regular screening
- Family medical history: glaucoma can be hereditary
- Myopia: being myopic is a risk factor
- Medical treatments: such as prolonged use of corticoid medication
- Ocular medical history: ocular malformation, uveitis, operated retinal detachment, etc…
Regular screening helps to avoid the late discovery of glaucoma and to follow the evolution of the disease whose damage is irreversible. Find out how often you should have an ophthalmologic check-up! Other pathologies can then be detected, such as AMD or cataract.
How is glaucoma treated?
In a new article, we will deal with the treatment of glaucoma, prescribed by your specialist: eye drops, laser, surgery under local anesthesia in order to reduce the intraocular pressure and evacuate the aqueous humor.