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Glaucoma: Silent Thief of Sight

Asian Hospital and Medical Center has a team of highly trained ophthalmologists / ophthalmic surgeons equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose and treat various eye conditions.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage vision so gradually that a person may not notice any loss of vision until the disease is at an advanced stage.

Cause
In glaucoma, pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) increases due to a buildup of aqueous humor, a fluid naturally and continuously produced in the eye. Aqueous Humor normally exits the eye through a drainage system. When this drainage system doesn’t work properly, the aqueous humor is unable to flow out of the eye at its normal rate, and pressure builds up within the eye.

Untreated, the increased intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma eventually damages the optic nerve, which transmits information from receptors in the eyes to the brain. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Symptoms
There are several types of glaucoma but the most common are primary open-angle glaucoma and acute angle-closure glaucoma. Both have completely different symptoms.

Primary open-angle glaucoma signs and symptoms include gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes and tunnel vision in the advanced stages. Worse, there may be no symptoms at all with open-angle glaucoma.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma signs and symptoms include severe eye pain, nausea and vomiting (accompanying the severe eye pain), sudden onset of visual disturbance, blurred vision, halos around lights, and redness of the eye. Not all symptoms though are present everytime.

Both open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma can be primary or secondary conditions, Glaucoma is called primary when the cause is unknown and secondary when the condition can be traced to a known cause, such as eye injury, inflammation, tumor, advanced cataract or diabetes.

In secondary glaucoma, the signs and symptoms can include those of the primary condition as well as typical glaucoma symptoms.

Risk factors

  • Age 60 years and above
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Eye conditions, e.g. eye injury, eye tumor, eye inflammation, or previous eye surgery
  • High myopia
  • High hyperopia
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Elevated intraocular pressure

Regular eye exams key to early diagnosis
Regular eye exams are the key to detecting glaucoma early and increase the chances for successful preventive treatment. Experts recommend a comprehensive eye exam for all adults starting at age 40, and every three to five years thereafter for individuals who do not have any glaucoma risk factors. Annual screening is recommended after age 60.

The following may be symptoms for an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack:

  • Severe headache usually on the side of the affected eye
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights

If you experience two or more of these symptoms together, seek immediate care at an emergency room or ophthalmologist’s clinic.

Asian Hospital and Medical Center has highly trained ophthalmologists / ophthalmic surgeons. Its Eye Center is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose and treat various eye conditions.

For inquiries, call (632) 771-9000 ext. 8203 / 8204 or e-mail ophthalmology@asianhospital.com.

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