All about Glaucoma – Its Tests and Different Treatments

Glaucoma is a type of eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerves which in turn leads to loss of vision that is permanent when left untreated. In most of the cases this condition is caused by the rise in the intraocular pressure of the aqueous humor, which is the fluid in the eye. This deadly condition has earned the nickname of being the “silent thief of sight” as the loss in vision often occurs very gradually and over a period of time and the condition is often identified only in the advanced stages. In most of the cases of glaucoma the loss of vision is so slow that patients only realize that there is a problem when they have completely lost their vision. Glaucoma is in fact one of the second most popular causes for blindness.

There are different types of glaucoma namely, the chronic or open angle glaucoma, the acute glaucoma or the angle closure glaucoma, the congenital glaucoma and the secondary glaucoma. While the open angle glaucoma progresses at a slow rate, the close angle glaucoma often is painful and appears suddenly causing loss of vision quickly. The congenital glaucoma often runs in families and is a condition that is present at birth and the secondary glaucoma is caused due to consumption of certain drugs.

Conventional Surgery to Treat Glaucoma

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Glaucoma Tests – Diagnosis

If this condition is diagnosed at the early stages then it can be managed and treated properly. There are six popular tests that help diagnose this complex condition at very early stages and then there are several other comprehensive eye examinations that also helps in the detection of glaucoma.

Some of the tests are given below.

Tonometry

This is one of the most common tests that is used to measure that intraocular pressure; however this is not often the best tests for glaucoma diagnosis.

Opthalmoscopy

This test is being used by practitioners all across the world to help examine the insides of the eye. Opthalmoscopy is performed with the help of a hand held device that is known as the opthalmoscope that helps the practitioner to look into the eye of the patient and thereby detect any damage to the optic nerve if present and hence diagnose glaucoma.

Pupillary Reflex Response

This is another test that is used for glaucoma diagnosis. Here the change in the size of the pupil’s diameter is measured in response to any external stimuli. The response is completely dependent on the accurate functioning of the optic nerve.

Gonioscopy

In this test a special mirrored device is used for glaucoma diagnosis. This device gently touches the eye surface and examines the angle at which the iris and the cornea meet. This test is used for glaucoma diagnosis and to identify the type of glaucoma as well as the severity of the condition.

Pachymetry

This is another method that is used in glaucoma diagnosis by measuring the cornea thickness as this thickness is believed to influence the intraocular pressure especially when tests like tonometry is performed.

Apart from these tests there are some other tests that help in glaucoma diagnosis such as Nerve fiber analysis, retinal examination, visual field test, optic nerve imaging, and slit lamp examination.

Glaucoma Treatment

While there is no available glaucoma treatment that can completely cure glaucoma condition, but there are glaucoma treatments that are available, which will help prevent the progression of the condition. Most of the glaucoma treatments are aimed at preserving the vision of the individual and also reduce the intraocular pressure in the eye. There are different types of glaucoma treatments which range from medications to surgery.

Medications

Eye drops can be used to bring down the intraocular pressure and there are different classes of medications that can be used to treat glaucoma in all these classes. However most of these medications often have systemic or local side effects.

Some of the medications are

Prostaglandin Analogs

Prostaglandin analogs such as bimatoprost, latanoprost an travopost helps increase the outflow of the aqueous humor from the eye there by reducing the pressure.

Osmotic Agents

Some of the osmotic agents such as mannitol and isosorbide are used with a lot of caution to help treat the close angled glaucoma in cases where the intraocular pressure remains high despite other treatments.

Some of the other medications are Beta-adrenergic antagonists, adrenergic agonists, parasympathomimetic agents, which are also known as miotics and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.

Surgery

Surgeries both conventional as well as laser are performed as a glaucoma treatment method. In fact in the case of congenital glaucoma, surgery is the primary therapy option. However in other cases, surgeries are just a temporary solution for this complex condition as there is no cure for glaucoma as yet.

Laser Treatment

When the medications as well as eye drops fail to offer the desired result laser treatment is often considered especially in the case of open angle glaucoma. In the case of close angled glaucoma, laser treatment is usually done in order to relieve the pressure in the eye and prevent an acute attack. Laser trabeculoplasty, lader cyclo-ablation and laser iridotomy are some of the laser glaucoma treatments available.

Conventional Surgical Treatments

Glaucoma treatments such as  trabeculectomy is one of the most commonly performed conventional surgery and this procedure is often performed when the medications as well as the laser treatments fail to produce the desired results.

Some of the other conventional surgery glaucoma treatments that are performed to help lower the intraocular pressure make use of aqueous shunt devices.

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