Known as the silent thief of vision, glaucoma is known in many countries as the most feared health problem after cancer and heart attack. Mostly asymptomatic glaucoma causes permanent vision loss when not diagnosed early and treatment is not initiated. For this reason, routine eye examinations are of great importance in terms of preventing vision loss. Prof. Dr. Abdullah Özkaya gave information about this disease that causes vision loss due to “12 March World Glaucoma Day”.
Glaucoma is the biggest cause of irreversible vision loss. It is estimated that by 2040, 111,8 million people will suffer from glaucoma. However, half of those with glaucoma are unaware of their illness. In developing countries, 90 percent of glaucoma patients can only be detected in very advanced stages because the disease does not show symptoms. However, vision loss due to glaucoma can be prevented with early diagnosis, appropriate controls and correct treatment. Glaucoma is the third most worrying health problem in the US after cancer and heart attacks. With an awareness that includes routine eye exams, glaucoma will no longer be a feared problem.
Pay attention to routine eye exams from the age of 35
Glaucoma, also known as "ocular tension", can be defined as optic nerve damage caused by the increase in intraocular pressure. If it is not diagnosed and treated early, permanent vision loss will occur. Although glaucoma can be congenital, it is mostly seen in individuals over the age of 35-40. For this reason, especially people over the age of 35 should pay attention to routine eye examinations every year.
Those with glaucoma in their family are at 10 times higher risk
While eye trauma, some systemic diseases and the use of some drugs may be effective in glaucoma; The problem may develop due to many variables with the increase in intraocular pressure. It is known that those with a family history of glaucoma have a 10-fold higher risk of glaucoma compared to the normal population.
The general risk factors of glaucoma can be listed as follows:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Being between the ages of 35-40 or over the age of 60
- Diabetes or hypertension disease
- African, Hispanic breeds are more risky
No typical symptoms
Glaucoma may not typically be asymptomatic. When the disease reaches a very advanced stage, central vision is severely affected. Patients may suddenly realize that they cannot see the objects next to them. Some patients may also state that their vision is more foggy. In very rare cases, symptoms such as redness, pain in the eyes, severe headache, and colorful mounds around the lights can be seen.
Ways to avoid glaucoma
Avoiding smoking, avoiding high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes reduces the risk of glaucoma. Thyroid gland diseases, vascular inflammations, neurological factors, and some uncontrolled drugs can also increase intraocular pressure, increasing intraocular pressure increases the risk of glaucoma. Consuming too much caffeinated beverages and drinking large amounts of fluids in a short time can also increase the intraocular pressure, which can bring the risk of glaucoma.
Increased eye pressure does not always indicate glaucoma
Eye pressure is normal between 10-21 mmHg. Not everyone with an intraocular pressure above 21 mmHg may have glaucoma. However, if there is optic nerve damage, glaucoma can be diagnosed. Visual field test is also very important in diagnosis. If intraocular pressure is increased, but even if there is no optic nerve damage, it should be treated as well.
If not diagnosed, it may be irreversible.
Early diagnosis is the key to slowing the progression of glaucoma, and often the only way to detect asymptomatic glaucoma is through regular eye exams. Glaucoma may be irreversible if caught late. Early diagnosed glaucoma can be kept under control with eye drops.
If you have glaucoma…
Early diagnosed glaucoma patients are in the lucky group. Regular check-ups and treatment of these people ensures that their ability to see is preserved for a lifetime. Those with glaucoma can live in a healthy way without reducing their quality of life with appropriate treatment. Glaucoma patients should remember that they should be under the supervision of an ophthalmologist for the rest of their life. Although there are many ongoing studies on glaucoma, new therapies will come to the fore in the near future. Glaucoma patients may wonder if they are suitable for refractive surgery. While research continues on this subject, many opinions state that patients with glaucoma should avoid some procedures.
Vital advice for glaucoma patients
Patients diagnosed with glaucoma should pay attention to some points to protect eye health. These can be listed as follows
- Eat healthy: Foods rich in minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium and vitamins C, E and A should be consumed.
- Exercise is important: Regular exercise can reduce intraocular pressure. However, it would be correct to consult an ophthalmologist for proper exercise.
- Limit caffeine: Consuming too much drinks containing caffeine can increase intraocular pressure.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Pay attention to drinking enough water.
- Pay attention to the quality of sleep. Choose a pillow that will keep your head about 20 degrees up.
- Take care of medications: Use the medicines prescribed by the ophthalmologist correctly.
People with advanced glaucoma should avoid driving
Glaucoma patients with visual field defects are at high risk for motor vehicle accidents. Those with glaucoma may generally complain of glare, poor night vision, and low contrast sensitivity. Vision can sometimes become very weak when moving from light to dark. Patients with moderate to severe visual field loss should avoid driving, especially at night and in foggy weather conditions.
Expectant mothers with glaucoma should pay attention to medications
The use of intraocular drops used for glaucoma during pregnancy is curious. According to studies, it is known that some drops can affect the fetus with circulation. It is stated that glaucoma drugs may pose a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is very important for women with glaucoma to consult an ophthalmologist.