Patient Education - Glaucoma
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patient22Glaucoma is a condition wherein the pressure of fluid within the eye (intraocular pressure) gradually increases to a level not tolerated by the sensitive tissues of the eye. The optic nerve, which is similar to a cable wire carrying visual images to the brain, is the portion of the eye susceptible to damage from glaucoma. Such damage is irreparable and visual loss due to glaucoma is irreversible.

Causes of Glaucoma

There is a fluid filled chamber in the front of the eye called the anterior chamber. It is filled with aqueous humour, which bathes and nourishes the tissues of the eye. If the drainage of this fluid is restricted, for reasons yet unknown, pressure builds up within the eye causing glaucoma.

Who is likely to get Glaucoma ?

o Persons over the age of 40 are more likely to develop glaucoma. However, the disease may occur in people of all ages including newborns.
o Persons with myopia, diabetes, and family history of glaucoma have an increased risk.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

In most cases of glaucoma, the patient is not aware of the gradual loss of sight until vision is significantly impaired.

There are only a few types of glaucoma which present with sudden onset of pain and reduction of vision.

How is Glaucoma treated?

A simple test with a device called the tonometer measures pressure within the eye. This test alone cannot detect all glaucomas. The back of the eye should be inspected to view the optic nerve after dilating the pupils. Side vision may also be examined by a computer-assisted test called perimetry (visual field examination).

The loss of vision due to glaucoma is irreversible. However, appropriate treatment and regular follow-up can preserve residual vision.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of arresting visual impairment.


For most people with glaucoma, regular use of medications will control the increased fluid pressure. However, in some, drugs may stop working after a period of time. In these situations, the ophthalmologist can help by adding or changing medications or by choosing another type of treatment: laser or surgical methods. Periodical eye examinations are therefore essential to ensure that the medications are working.
Laser treatment
In some type of glaucomas, called angle closure glaucomas, laser treatment is the primary form of reducing the eye pressure. This is a simple out-patient procedure, which uses a strong beam of light to relieve the fluid pressure.
In open angle type glaucomas, laser treatment is applied only if various medications fail to control the fluid pressure. Medications need to be continued regularly even after laser treatment. Laser treatment has very minimal complications, but its effect in reducing the eye pressure may wear off over time.


In some persons with glaucoma, medical or laser treatment is insufficient to arrest glaucoma and surgery is indicated. But this treatment option has its risks and limitations and is reserved as the treatment of last resort. Even after surgical treatment, individuals with glaucoma should continue periodical check-ups by an ophthalmologist and additional medications may be required indefinitely.

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