The key to preventing glaucoma
is early detection and effective treatment.
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Glaucoma, affecting 2% of the Hungarian population, is caused by the slow progressive destruction of retinal cells and nerve fibres, which is due to persistently high intraocular pressure and abnormally high daily fluctuation of pressure.
During the formation of a glaucoma, the balance between the production and drainage of aqueous humour in the eye is upset, the intraocular pressure rises and this damages the optic nerve. The process causes irreversible visual deterioration, leading to a gradual loss of visual acuity, visual field loss and, in the end, even loss of vision. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in case of people over 60 years of age, but it is often preventable with early treatment.
Glaucoma is an insidious disease. One type, open-angle glaucoma, has no warning signs or obvious symptoms in the early stages, but may have underlying cell damage. As the disease progresses, blind spots develop in the peripheral (side) vision. By the time it causes a complaint, a significant part of the optic nerve fibres has already destroyed.
The disease is often detected during routine eye examinations or the patient may only visit a specialist with complaints when the visual field has become very narrow. This is why glaucoma is called the “silent thief of sight”.
The other type can cause severe pain and visual impairment, and blockage of the chamber angle can cause an acute glaucoma attack. Initially, symptoms may resolve spontaneously. The patient may attribute blurred vision and headaches to something else, delaying appropriate treatment.
However, it is important to recognise the glaucoma attack and the condition that precedes it.
Symptoms can include:
- your vision suddenly becomes blurred
- severe eye pain, headache occurs
- you feel unwell, nausea and vomiting can happen
- rainbow rings or halos appear around the lights
Glaucoma may be a higher risk in the case of people who:
- over 40 years old
- have family members with a history of glaucoma
- have high or elevated intraocular pressure
- farsighted or nearsighted
- have suffered an eye injury
- are on long-term steroid medication
- have poor circulation, high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines and health problems affecting the whole body
Those with more than one of these risk factors have an even higher chance of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma can also be associated with other diseases. It can develop at an early age and some people are born with it.
How is glaucoma
The only sure way to diagnose glaucoma is a complete eye examination.
A glaucoma screening, which only checks eye pressure, is not sufficient to diagnose glaucoma.
The screening and examination includes intraocular pressure measurement, examination of the chamber angle,
fundus examination, visual field examination, OCT-optic nerve fibre analysis and, if necessary, OCT-angiography.
Regular eye examinations are also important in the case of asymptomatic conditions and lack of complaints, especially over the age of 40, in order to detect the problem as soon as possible and to trea asymptomatic but serious medical complications in time.
During the examination, we will determine the exact type of glaucoma and decide which treatment is best for you.
How to treat glaucoma?
Vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent and irreversible. However, different treatments can help stop further damage.
Glaucoma can be treated with medication eye drops, laser treatment or surgery if necessary.
- Medication: glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops. These eye drops are used every day to reduce eye pressure. Some eye drops achieve this by reducing the amount of aqueous humour produced by the eye. Others reduce the pressure by helping the fluid to flow easier through the eye drainage channels.
- Laser surgeries: help the aqueous humour drainage from the eye and can reduce the production of aqueous humour.
- Operations to reducre eye pressure: a new drainage channel is created to allow the aqueous humour to escape from the eye.
Half of the people with glaucoma don’t even know they have a disease. Apply for an eye examination so we can detect your disease at an early stage.
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Frequently asked questions
Why is glaucoma dangerous?
Glaucoma is the type of eye disease that can cause blindness over time if left untreated. In milder cases, it causes a narrowing of the field of vision and a severe deterioration of vision.
Even a few decades ago, even if the diagnosis was made in time, there was little control over the course of the disease.
But today, if diagnosed early, further vision deterioration can be prevented with eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. This requires glaucoma screening, recommended annually for everyone over the age of 40.
What examinations can I expect to undergo to diagnose glaucoma?
If you are at high risk of developing glaucoma or are over 40 years of age, you are advised to have a comprehensive eye examination every year, which may include the following tests:
Measuring intraocular pressure: An eye pressure test (tonometry) uses an instrument called a tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. Screening can also be done with a non-contact device called a tonometer, which measures eye pressure using an air puff, so it is not necessary to touch the patient’s eye.
Gonioscopy: An eye chamber angle examination (gonioscopy) is performed after anaesthetising the surface of the eye using a contact lens-like device. With the help of its special mirrors, the ophthalmologist looks through the cornea and into the area of the eye chamber angle that cannot be examined with the naked eye.
Visual field test: A visual field test (perimetry) checks for areas of vision that are missing. You will be shown a series of light points and asked which ones you can see. If you cannot see spots in your peripheral vision, it may indicate that glaucoma has damaged your vision.
Optic nerve examination: After the pupils are dilated, the doctor uses a slit lamp to examine the optic nerve.
OCT and OCT-A scan: OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) and OCT-A (Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography) scans provide the finest analysis of the retinal layers. OCT examinations are painless and fast, with light beams scanning the fundus of the eye through the macula, the place of sharp vision. The result is a cross-sectional image of the retina with micrometre precision. It reveals the vasculature of the retina and the path of the blood flow. With this information, the ophthalmologist can clearly determine whether there is an abnormality in the eye and if so, recommend an appropriate, customised treatment. OCT-A is currently the most advanced and modern diagnostic tool in the hands of ophthalmologists.
Corneal thickness measurment: It can affect the pressure in the eye, so it is necessary to check the thickness of the cornea.
What to do in case of a glaucoma attack?
If symptoms of an acute glaucoma attack are noticed, an ophthalmologist should be consulted immediately, as this condition can lead to complete blindness within a few hours.
Can glaucoma medicines have side effects?
Glaucoma medicines can help you preserve your sight, but they can have different side effects.
Possible side effects include:
a stinging or itching sensation
red eyes or red skin around the eyes
changes in pulse and heart rate
changes in breathing (especially if you have asthma or breathing problems)
changes in the colour of the eyes, the skin around the eyes or the eyelids
Some medicines may cause problems when taken with other medicines. It is important to give your doctor a list of all the medications you take regularly. Be sure to talk to your ophthalmologist if you notice that your glaucoma medicine is causing side effects.
Never change or stop taking your glaucoma medicines without consulting your ophthalmologist.
What are the symptoms of high eye pressure?
Some common symptoms of high eye pressure include:
Pain in and around the eye
Blind spots in the field of vision
Irritation and discomfort in the eye
If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, contact your eye specialist.