Tests for Glaucoma and How to Manage this Disease

The main cause of glaucoma is currently unknown; however, recent research has shown us that eye pressure may not be the only determining factor in this eye condition. In the past, when eye pressure was measured to be above 21 mmHg (millimetres of mercury), it was thought to be due to glaucoma. Now we have been made to understand that glaucoma isn't diagnosed even when the eye pressure rises up to 30. In any case, glaucoma occurs after the age of forty, and it may be the result of infection, trauma, heredity, or a tumor.

Glaucoma is typically a group of eye conditions (more of a vascular disease) that causes damage to the optic nerve and often leads to blindness. It is often associated with allergy, stress, anxiety, or hormone disorders.

Symptoms include eye pain or discomfort, blurred vision, loss of vision at the sides, halos around lights, and inability to adjust to a darkened room. Early detection of glaucoma can significantly reduce the occurrence of blindness resulting from it.

GLAUCOMA TESTING

There are seven tests that can be given to diagnose glaucoma. It is strongly advisable for anyone over 40 to undergo glaucoma testing every two years.

1. Ophthalmoscopy

During this exam, eye drops will be applied to the eyeball in order to dilate the pupil. The optometrist can then examine the shape and color of the optic nerve. A magnifying glass light will be used to light up the back of the eye in order to make it clear enough for the optic nerve to be seen. After this, a digital camera will be used to take a photo of the optic nerve.

2. Gonioscopy

The eye will be desensitized with eye drops, and a mirrored lens is placed close to the eye to analyze the angle between the cornea and the iris (parts of the eye where liquid drains away). The optometrist uses the angle obtained to detect the type of glaucoma the person might be suffering from, either open angle or closed angle. Open angle glaucoma forms gradually and often leaves little or no warning signs, while closed angle glaucoma is quite painful.

3. Tonometry

This is a test using an instrument to puff air into the eye, permitting the optometrist to assess the eye pressure. Sometimes, greater eye pressure is an indication of the presence of glaucoma.

4. Field of vision

This test looks for blind spots in your vision. This is done by flashing lights into the corner of the eye to detect whether the patient can see them or not. This test can be carried out with or without glasses.

5. Pachymetry

In this test, a specific device is used to measure the width of the cornea. An optometrist uses the result obtained to better interpret the result of the eye pressure (tonometry) test. Patients with thinner corneas are at lesser risk of vision loss than ones with thicker corneas. The magnitude of the thickness determines the severity of the condition, and the reverse could be said for thinner corneas.

6. Perimetry

The optometrist uses this test to examine how effectively a person's peripheral vision can detect vivid lights. There may be an indication of glaucoma if the person finds it difficult to see some of the vivid lights placed at the edge of the eyes. This test is administered by a computer.

7. Nerve Fiber Analysis

If the thickness of the optic nerve has been decreasing in multiple areas, this can indicate damage created by glaucoma.

MANAGING GLAUCOMA

These procedures are meant to reduce the severity of the ailment and manage what's left of a patient's vision.

1. Eye Drops

Medication in the form of eye drops is probably the easiest, most convenient, and most common way to manage glaucoma. Several eye drops are used to reduce the production of aqueous humor and to increase its surge, leading to lower intraocular pressure. Some medications are utilized for short-term and long-term effects, so each one is administered as per the patient's compliance with the regimen.

2. The Reduction of Intraocular Pressure

Decrease in intraocular pressure is another way to minimize the risk and impact of glaucoma, and this has traditionally been the primary objective of any glaucoma-related treatment.

There are two important components to reducing intraocular pressure, depending on the patient's specific situation:

  1. Reduce the production of aqueous humor (watery fluid located in the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye), or
  2. Increase the amount of aqueous humor in the eye.

3. Surgery

Glaucoma can also be effectively managed with surgery. Note that surgery only provides symptomatic treatment for glaucoma, it does not provide a cure.

Trabeculectomy is the conventional surgery for glaucoma, in which parts of the blocked fluid pathways are removed in order to create an opening in the sclera of the eye. If this opening can move freely, it will function as the new drainage system for eye fluid. This surgery is effective in lowering intraocular pressure.