It was in May 1998 that I first noticed the symptoms. For years before this time, I had chronic itchy eyes that makes my eyes always reddish. I visited many hospitals seeking for a cure, and the doctors always prescribed eye drops for me. Having used these eyedrops for my itchy eyes, I started experiencing blurred vision on my right eye. An Optometrist at the Teaching Hospital issued me a pair of glasses, but it didn’t help. It was until I went to the National Eye Hospital in Kaduna that an Ophthalmologist told me that I have developed Glaucoma – the vision thief!
That was the first time I heard about that eye disease. Africans were more familiar with itchy eyes, conjunctivitis (a.k.a. Apolo) and the more serious Cataract. In most cases, these eye challenges have visible symptoms, and the patient gets cured within a short time. However, glaucoma is not always noticeable until it has caused irreparable damage. That’s exactly the situation I found myself.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that can damage your optic nerve, as per Healthline. The optic nerve supplies visual information to your brain from your eyes. Sometimes, glaucoma is the result of abnormally high pressure inside the eye. Over time, this increased pressure can erode your optic nerve tissue, which may lead to vision loss or even blindness. But if it’s caught early, the person may be able to prevent additional vision loss.
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There are two most common forms of glaucoma: the primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and the angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).
Open-angle glaucoma is often called “the sneak thief of sight.” This is because it has no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. Here, the fluid pressure inside the eye increases, which thereby causes progressive damage to the optic nerve and loss of nerve fibers. This is the type I was diagnosed with.
The acute angle-closure glaucoma usually occurs abruptly due to a rapid increase of pressure in the eye. Its symptoms may include severe eye pain, nausea, redness in the eye, and blurred vision. This is an emergency condition in which severe vision loss can occur quickly. Glaucoma cannot currently be prevented. But if it is diagnosed and treated early, it can usually be controlled. However, vision already lost to glaucoma cannot be restored.
Glaucoma Questions Answered
The popular saying, “you never value what you have until you lose it” applies more clearly to our vision. Let us discuss some common questions people often ask about glaucoma.
What are the main causes of Glaucoma?
There’s a clear fluid the eye produces at the back, which eventually fills the front part of the eye. This fluid is designed to leave the eye through channels in your cornea and iris. If these channels are blocked or partially obstructed, the natural intraocular pressure (IOP) may increase. As the IOP increases, your optic nerve may become damaged. As damage to your nerve progresses, you may begin losing sight in your eye.
Healthline reports that the causes of the pressure in your eye to increase isn’t always known. However, doctors believe one or more of these factors may play a role: dilating eye drops, blocked or restricted drainage in your eye, certain medications, poor or reduced blood flow to your optic nerve, or high or elevated blood pressure.
Who is at risk of Glaucoma?
According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. The risk factors for glaucoma include age, ethnicity, pre-existing eye problem, as well as family & medical history.
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
To diagnose glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will want to perform a comprehensive eye examination. They’ll check for signs of deterioration, including loss of nerve tissue. They may also look at your detailed medical history, perform different tests and monitor the optic nerve.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to reduce IOP to stop any additional eyesight loss. Typically, the doctor will begin treatment with prescription eye drops. If more advanced treatment is needed, the doctor may administer stronger medicines designed to reduce IOP. When a blocked channel is causing the increased IOP, the doctor may suggest surgery to correct the situation. If your increased IOP can be stopped and the pressure returned to normal, vision loss can be slowed or even stopped.
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Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
Glaucoma can’t be prevented, but it’s still important to catch it early. This is so as to begin treatment that will help prevent it from getting worse. The best way to catch any type of glaucoma early is to have an annual preventive eye care appointment. As advised by Healthline, visit an ophthalmologist regularly. Simple tests performed during these routine eye checks may be able to detect damage from glaucoma before it advances and begins causing vision loss. And because there’s no cure for glaucoma, treatment will need to continue for the rest of your life to regulate your IOP.
Can Glaucoma Lead to Blindness?
When faced with a new diagnosis of glaucoma, most people wonder if they’d go blind. Fortunately for most patients, that is not the case. Loss of vision can occur even with the best treatment. Despite that sobering fact, correct treatment and follow-up will stabilize the vast majority of patients with glaucoma.
You are the major factor in the treatment of your glaucoma. By correctly using your eye drops and being consistent in their use, you will unlikely go blind. I have been living with glaucoma since 1998, without any threat of blindness.
Another alternative way to contain the effects of glaucoma is by taking food supplements. The foods we eat are not enough to provide the recommended daily vitamins and mineral our bodies need. We need food supplements to ensure that we are getting a measurable amount of essential nutrients that make up for the poor nutrient content of our meals. The body needs supplements for vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, phytochemicals, and others. These supplements enrich the body’s internal environment to fortify cellular protection, repair, and regeneration.
The point of this article is this: start taking action to prevent any damage from glaucoma today. Eating healthy foods and taking necessary supplements will help protect your eyes from glaucoma, the thief of vision. Regularly visit a doctor to check the condition of your eyes, especially if you have pre-existing eyes problems. When you do, you stand a better chance of protecting your eyes from glaucoma, the thief of vision!
If you have any thoughts about this article to contribute, do well to drop your views at the comments section below.