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Glaucoma: Everything you need to know

Glaucoma: Everything you need to know

GLAUCOMA is believed to be the third-highest cause of blindness in the world. Around 4.5 million people worldwide suffer from Glaucoma-induced blindness.  

Even more astounding, 76 million people are affected by Glaucoma. Of the people who lost their vision, 40% occurred without symptoms. 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is pressure building up inside the eye – usually owing to fluid not draining properly from the eyes. If left untreated, this pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Irreversible blindness can occur if the condition is not treated in time. 

The condition is most prevalent in adults affected by factors such as old age, family history, racial background and medical conditions. 

Different types of Glaucoma have different treatment methods. Unfortunately, there is no absolute cure, only lifelong management of the condition to prevent further loss of sight, says Sightsavers

Types of Glaucoma include Open-angle Glaucoma, Angle-closure Glaucoma, Normal-tension glaucoma, Glaucoma in children and Pigmentary Glaucoma; when the pigment granules from your iris build up in the drainage channels. This stops fluid from exiting your eyes. Strenuous activities can stir up the pigment granules, depositing them on the trabecular meshwork and causing intermittent pressure elevations, explains MayoCLinic.

When the iris bulges forward, blocking the fluid from circulating through the eye, Angle-closure Glaucoma develops. As this happens, the pressure increases. Acute angle-closure Glaucoma is a medical emergency.

Angle-closure Glaucoma can happen suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma) or gradually (chronic angle-closure Glaucoma). 

The most common form of Glaucoma is open-angle Glaucoma. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris remains open, but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked, which allows pressure to build up in the eye. This pressure increases gradually and eventually damages the optic nerve. 

Symptoms

Having medical insurance like Affinity Health can help make

receiving expert medical care possible, accessible, and most importantly

affordable.

The symptoms associated with Glaucoma include: 

  • Patchy, missing areas or holes in your field of vision – usually blind spots or loss of peripheral vision 
  • A foggy or hazy vision means that solid forms can’t be clearly seen. 
  • Severely decreased contrast means that there is difficulty in distinguishing contrast.
  • Increased sensitivity to light with glare being a big problem. Seeing halos around lights

Who is at risk? 

Glaucoma affects young and old, but you are at greater risk if you;

  • Have a family history of the condition.
  • Are over 40 years of age
  • Your vision is poor – near-sighted or far-sighted 
  • Have unusually thin corneas
  • Your eye pressure is high. You need to go for regular eye-checks
  • Had an eye injury or eye injuries 
  • Are on medication for: bladder control, seizures, some over-the-counter cold remedies or you take certain steroid medications. 

Treatment

The treatment is generally focused on lowering the pressure in your eye, and this may be done with:

  • Eye drops either lower fluid creation in your eye or increases the flow out of the eyes, thereby lowering eye pressure. Side effects may occur, such as redness, stinging, blurry vision and eye irritation.
  • Oral medication may be given that either improve drainage or slows the creation of fluid in the eye. These medicines are either beta-blockers or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
  • Laser surgery procedures either slightly raises the flow of fluid from your eyes or stops fluid blockage, depending on what type of Glaucoma you have.
  • Microsurgery involves the surgeon creating a new fluid drainage channel to ease eye pressure. Complications include temporary or permanent loss of vision or bleeding and infection, says WebMD.

Daily life with Glaucoma

There are always healthy guidelines that you can follow to improve your quality of life. 

With Glaucoma, the golden rule is to take your prescription medication as indicated.  Protect your eyes with protective eyewear for whatever you do outdoors. And never rub your eyes if they feel itchy or tired. 

When it comes to wearing contact lenses or eye make-up, whatever you apply to the eye area may adversely affect your eyes. Rather discuss your concerns with your doctor. 

You may find the following activities useful:

  • Lose the cigarettes as they raise blood pressure and cause eye inflammation, which could lead to diabetes and cataracts, all high-risk factors.
  • Ditch the coffee, tea and soda drinks because these all heighten the pressure in the eyes. 
  • Drink fluids slowly and don’t gulp drinks down, and never drink more than a cup at a time – drinking a lot at a time causes eye strain.
  • Keep your head slightly elevated when resting and avoid exercises that require bending your head lower than your heart, such as some of the yoga poses, as they could lead to pressure in the eyes. 
  • Always do some gentle exercises as they help with lowering eye pressure and they keep blood flowing to nerves in the eye. But before making lifestyle changes, please ask your doctor what low-risk exercises suit you best.
  • When it comes to lifestyle changes, you can’t go wrong with a healthy, well-balanced eating plan that will keep your body and eyes healthy. Dietitians suggest eating more antioxidant and nutrient-rich foods like leafy greens, whole foods, fruit and vegetables. 

If you develop chronic eye diseases like cataracts, retinopathy, Glaucoma and macular degeneration, the earlier one of them is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Does Affinity health cover optic health?

Affinity Health’s day-to-day cover offers a partnership with Specsavers, which includes an

annual eye test per beneficiary and free lenses and

frames every 24 months. Services must be obtained from a network of registered optometrists. There is a limit put on prescriptions of white standard mono or bifocal lenses with a basic frame.

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