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Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States

Updated: Monday, Jun 14,2010, 5:54:04 PM
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Types of glaucoma

    * Low tension/normal tension - In low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage and narrowed side vision occur unexpectedly in people with normal eye pressure. People with this form of the disease have the same types of treatment as open-angle glaucoma.
    * Congenital - In congenital glaucoma, children are born with defects in the angle of the eye that slow the normal drainage of fluid. Children with this problem usually have obvious symptoms such as cloudy eyes, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Surgery is usually the suggested treatment, because medicines may have unknown effects in infants and be difficult to give to them. The surgery is safe and effective. If surgery is done promptly, these children usually have an excellent chance of having good vision.

    * Primary open angle - The most common form of glaucoma is primary open angle glaucoma. Sometimes, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork drain, causing the pressure inside the eye to build. If the pressure damages the optic nerve, open-angle glaucoma - and vision loss - may result. Initially, that in this form of glaucoma, there are no symptoms and no pain. But gradually, the field of vision blurs and narrows until vision is lost permanently.
    * Closed angle or narrow angle glaucoma - In closed-angle or narrow angle glaucoma, the fluid at the front of the eye cannot reach the angle and leave the eye because the angle gets blocked by part of the iris. People with this type of glaucoma may have a sudden increase in pressure. this is termed acute closed angle glaucoma. Symptoms include severe pain and nausea as well as redness of the eye and blurred vision. This is a medical emergency. The patient needs immediate treatment to improve the flow of fluid. Without treatment, you can lose sight in that eye in as little as one or two days. Usually, prompt laser surgery can clear the blockage and protect sight.
    * Secondary glaucomas - Secondary glaucomas can develop as a complication of other medical conditions. They are sometimes associated with eye surgery or advanced cataracts, eye injuries, certain eye tumors or eye inflammation.

Who's most at risk

Anyone can get glaucoma. some groups are at higher risk, including:

    * African Americans over the age of 40
    * anyone over the age of 60
    * diabetics
    * people with a family history of glaucoma

an eye exam every two years can help safeguard vision, especially if you fall into one of the high-risk groups. Eye care professionals will test how well you see at various distances, measure your side or peripheral vision, test the fluid pressure inside your eye, and check the optic nerve for signs of damage. There may be drops placed into the eye to dilate or widen the pupil to give the examiner a better view of the optic nerve. This can result in temporarily blurred vision.

To detect glaucoma, that your eye care professional will use tests that can include:

    * Visual acuity - This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
    * Visual field - This test measures your side (peripheral) vision. It helps your eye care professional find out if you have lost side vision, a sign of glaucoma.
    * Pupil dilation - This examination provides your eye care professional with a better view of the optic nerve to check for signs of damage. To do this, your eye care professional places drops into the eye to dilate (widen) the pupil. After the examination, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
    * Tonometry - This standard test determines the fluid pressure inside the eye.

Although the most common form of glaucoma can't be cured, it can be controlled. there are several types of treatment options:

    * Medications - This can be either in the form of eye drops or pills. Some drugs work to reduce pressure by slowing the flow of fluid into the eye. Others help to improve fluid drainage. For most people with glaucoma, regular use of medications can control the increased fluid pressure. But, the effect may not last, or there may be side effects. If this happens, the eye care professional may select other drugs, change the dose or suggest other ways to deal with the problem.
    * Laser surgery - At the front of the eye, there is a small space called the anterior chamber. During laser surgery, a strong beam of light is focused on the part of this anterior chamber where the fluid leaves the eye. This results in a series of small changes, which makes it easier for fluid to leave the eye. Over time, however, the effect of laser surgery may wear off. In addition, patients who have this form of surgery may need to keep taking glaucoma drugs.
    * Surgery - Surgery can also help fluid escape from the eye and thereby reduce the pressure. However, surgery is usually reserved for patients whose pressure cannot be controlled with eye drops, pills or laser surgery.

that surgery for glaucoma may increase the risk of developing cataracts. As with any medical treatment, make sure you discuss all options as well as potential side effects with your doctor.

Tags: Glaucoma

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