Understanding Glaucoma Symptoms and Best Treatment Options
Good eyesight is not something to be taken for granted, and most of us would never underestimate how important our vision is to our everyday lives. That’s what makes glaucoma such a cause for concern if you acquire it. What is glaucoma? It’s an eye disease where pressure builds up on the eye’s optic nerve and causes it to degenerate. If glaucoma is left unchecked then the person will suffer vision loss, and potentially blindness in the eye. It’s for this reason that it’s important to be able to identify glaucoma symptoms as they begin to be seen, and seek treatment for the condition without delay.
Your optic nerve is responsible for transmitting all the information gained through your vision to your brain, and as such it’s extremely integral to your ability to use all of your 5 senses most effectively. Armed with this understanding it’s natural to want to be able to detect glaucoma symptoms early, and understanding that the likelihood of glaucoma can run in the family may be helpful too.
There are different types of glaucoma, and two typical glaucoma causes that are believed to behind each of them. All will be discussed here, as well as the standard glaucoma treatments as directed by physicians and ophthalmologists.
Types of Glaucoma
There are four types of glaucoma, and the most commonly seen one is primary open-angle glaucoma.
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
This involves too much aqueous fluid building up inside the wall of the eye. It’s natural and necessary for some aqueous fluid being here, but only a moderate amount of it. When the buildup is excessive or the fluid doesn’t drain properly then pressure is exerted on the optic nerve. With this type of glaucoma the first of the glaucoma symptoms experienced is a diminishing of the person’s peripheral vision.
Other glaucoma symptoms for this type is experiencing tunnel vision, and this occurs when the condition has advanced untreated.
Angle Closure Glaucoma
This is also known as closed-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, and it is the most serious and dangerous form of glaucoma. That’s because it can cause vision loss within a day. Angle closure glaucoma is caused when the drainage angle in the eye closes or becomes blocked. The cause of this usually the lens in the eye becoming larger due to age and then pushing the iris forward, so there’s less space between the iris and the cornea.
The glaucoma symptoms seen here are drastic diminishment of vision in acute cases, and a progressive onset of worse vision in chronic cases. Other symptoms here are severe headache, nausea and vomiting, extreme eye redness, and pronounced blurry vision.
Immediate treatment is a necessity to avoid permanent damage and likely loss of vision.
Secondary glaucoma is relatively uncommon, and is caused by an injury, infection, or tumor in or around the eye that results in the intraocular pressure that is central to all glaucoma causes. Secondary glaucoma can also be the result of medical conditions, medications, and undetected eye abnormalities. In rare cases it can be caused by complications from unrelated eye surgeries.
The glaucoma symptoms seen here are blurring of the person’s vision.
This type of glaucoma is tricky to diagnose, because it occurs when the intraocular pressure in the eye is quite normal. With normal-tension glaucoma pressure is entirely normal but the optic nerve is still damaged. How this works still isn’t entirely known.
Glaucoma symptoms are often not seen with normal-tension glaucoma. The danger with that is in the fact that the condition may have progressed significantly before symptoms are experienced.
Most sufferers will receive a glaucoma treatment that involves taking medications like Alphagan (brimonidine) or Timoptic XE (Timolol), among others. For some people a single medication may be effective for mediating their glaucoma symptoms, while others may need to take a combination of them. Often a physician will recommend making certain different diet and lifestyle choices to enhance the effectiveness of their glaucoma treatment.
These recommendations usually include eating foods high in carotenoids (orange and yellow vegetables as good examples), drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices, eating blueberries and cherries (because of their anthocyanidin content) and wild caught fish (EPA / DHA fatty acids), as well as supplementing the diet with chromium. Chromium has been proven to be very beneficial for people with glaucoma.
The individual will also be advised to be tested for food allergies, as the allergic responses to eating foods a person is allergic to can increase intraocular pressure. Avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol intake is helpful too, and refined sugar should be avoided for a whole array of different health reasons – avoiding glaucoma being one of them.
In instances where a person’s glaucoma and glaucoma symptoms are not sufficiently mediated with medications and natural healthcare approaches related to it then eye surgery may be required. There are 3 types of surgery for glaucoma:
- Conventional surgery
- Laser surgery
- Drainage implant surgery
Conventional surgery typically involves creation of a drainage flap in the eye that’s achieved with a process called a trabeculectomy. If successful, the flap allows the excess aqueous fluid to drain from the eye much more effectively. Laser surgery is a less invasive surgery choice for lessening glaucoma symptoms, and it is also a trabeculectomy process but one where a laser beam stimulates the trabecular network to allow more drainage.
Laser surgery tends to result in less permanent results than conventional glaucoma surgery, and in some cases the individual may have to have successive treatments with it.
Drainage implant surgery is most commonly performed on people who have uncontrolled glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, or in the rare instances where a child develops glaucoma. It involves a small silicone tube being inserted in the eye to aid with the draining of aqueous fluid and abating glaucoma symptoms.