What is Glaucoma? How much sight have I lost? Can my vision be restored? Can my vision be saved? When you are told you have glaucoma, these are some of the first question that run into your thoughts. But don't let them stay there. You should talk each one of them out with your doctor. There are so many reasons to get a clear understanding of what you need to do and what your treatment will consist of. The main one being, of course, to save your sight.
As with diabetes, there are two types of glaucoma:
- open angle glaucoma is when the iris (the color part of the eye) is visible but not working properly. The usual prescribed treatment is eye drops. Open angle glaucoma is what I suffer with..
- angle-closure glaucoma is when the natural drain of the eye is blocked by the iris (the color part of the eye). To open the drain, laser surgery is usually prescribed and eye drops may also be prescribed.
Both types of glaucoma cause pressure to buildup in the eye. The pressure is called the interocular pressure or IOP. The IOP damages the nerve and causes vision loss. The average IOP is 16 millimeters of mercury. However the level at which the IOP damages the optic nerve can differs from patient to patient.
The severity of your glaucoma can be determined by a visual field test. In advanced glaucoma, the test will show advanced deterioration of visual loss that may impact your daily activity such as driving, reading, and avoiding falls.
Open angel glaucoma dose not cause symptoms until visual field damage is extensive. The lack of symptoms is why optic nerve and visual field test are imperative. I was recently severely scolded, and rightfully so. I had not been tested in two years.
I was making appointments. But not keeping them. I was suffering with arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes simultaneously and was just too sick to go and concentrate on those visual field test. That was my excuse. My doctor was not having any of that. He told me that "had I been a no show for that appointment, he was excusing himself from being my doctor". He told me he had seen too many people loose their sight from that type of behavior.
When my prescription ran out I would call the office and have it refilled. My doctor was very clear about the possibility that the drops could have stooped working and even thou I was taking the drops, I could have lost my sight.
Angle-closure glaucoma may have a sudden increase of eye pressure with symptoms that may include
- eye pain
- halos around lights
- headache and
- nausea and vomiting.
Treatments for glaucoma cannot restore vision but it is the best way to keep the glaucoma from worsening. The main complaint with treatment is that the medications may cause the lashes to grow longer and darker with prolonged use. and It may result with the appearance of dark circles under the eyes and light colored eyes may permanently turn darker. If you miss a dose of eye drops, take the dose as soon as possible. If it is close to time for your nest dose, wait and take the scheduled dose. Do not double up on medication.
I would be remiss, if I did not mention the continued research of Marijuana in helping people with glaucoma. Last week Richard Lovet wrote an excellent blog for the National Geographic News concerning his latest findings on the use of Marijuana to treat different types of cancer, arthritis, as well as glaucoma.
Mr. Lovet's article created quite a heated discussion in the Diggs blogging community this week.
Staying healthy is as important as taking your eye drops. If you have other diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and or heart disease they should be appropriately treated. Some doctors also suggest multiple vitamins, eating leafy green vegetables, exercise and weight loss for obese patents.