Glaucoma is an increase in pressure within the eye which, if not treated, damages the nerve responsible for vision (the optic nerve). It is the third leading cause of blindness in the United States .
Glaucoma, which can be successfully treated if diagnosed in time, is primarily a disease of people over 40. Although the cause of the glaucoma disease is often not known, it may result from eye injury, infection, cataracts or other eye diseases, and some medications.
Unfortunately, the most common form of glaucoma (chronic glaucoma) has no symptoms, and those who have it may be unaware of its presence until visual loss occurs. Therefore, early diagnosis is most important.
Experts recommend that those over age 40 have their eyes checked for increased pressure every one to two years by an ophthalmologist or at a health screening clinic. People with a family or personal history of glaucoma or other serious eye disease usually require more frequent examinations.
There is also an acute form of glaucoma which is relatively rare but is a medical emergency, since permanent loss of vision can occur within hours. Fortunately, this type of glaucoma has symptoms. These may include severe eye and facial pain, nausea and vomiting, decreased or blurred vision with haloes or rainbows around lights, and redness of the eye.
If you have these symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist at once.
Cure Glaucoma Disease
Chronic glaucoma, the most common type, is usually successfully treated with medication. Eye drops such as piocarpine, Epinephrine, or timolol are the glaucoma cure of choice. These decrease the
pressure within the eye by improving the eye’s drainage system or decreasing the amount of fluid produced. (These fluids are within the eye and have nothing to do with tears or other external fluids.)
These eye drops are usually well tolerated, although they may cause some blurring of vision. Most eye drops must be inserted several times daily. There is also a time release medication called Ocusert which is inserted in the eye once a week and which allows medication to be released at a steady rate.
The major problem with this medication is its cost, which is several times higher than that of most eye drops. Oral medication, such as Diamox, may also be used, usually in combination with eye drops. Since Diamox may have serious side effects such as kidney stones, weakness, weight loss, and depression, it is usually used only in those people for whom eye drops alone are not effective.
Since chronic glaucoma has no symptoms, many people do not realize the seriousness of the glaucoma disease and are unwilling to take their medication regularly or to spend money for it. Glaucoma causes permanent blindness if not treated.
Regular use of eye drops or other medication is a small price to pay for the ability to see. Treatment with medication is successful in most cases. However, if it is not effective, surgery is necessary to prevent visual loss.
Fortunately, surgery for glaucoma has a very high success rate and carries a low risk. Acute glaucoma almost always requires surgery to prevent a recurrence of symptoms, although eye drops and oral medication are usually used initially.