Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent blindness globally. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an estimated 64.3 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma. Those numbers are estimated to nearly double by the year 2040. Each year millions of people lose their sight because of this disease. The condition is the result of a group of progressive nerve diseases caused by increased pressure in the eyes. It does not show many symptoms in its early stages, making it hard to detect and treat in time before it causes irreversible loss of vision.
Are you at risk for glaucoma?
Glaucoma may not be preventable, but blindness from the condition can be as long as it is detected in the early stages. Many people affected with the disease do not know until it is too late. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the common risk factors.
- Being 40 years or older
- Family history of glaucoma
- Previous eye injury
- High eye pressure
- Taking steroid medications
Other risk factors include a high degree of near or far sightedness, thin corneas, diabetes , and migraines .
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Bumrungrad International Hospital’s Eye Center offers several diagnostic methods that take into account unique risk factors so that the test you get is tailored to you. These methods include:
- Slit-lamp Microscopy Eye Exam
- Eye Pressure Test (Intraocular Pressure)
- Central Cornea Measurement (Pachymeter)
- Anterior Chamber Angle Exam (Visante OCT)
- Optic Nerve Exam
- Visual Field Test
How is glaucoma treated?
There are several treatments available depending upon the type and stage of glaucoma. Once these factors have been determined, the doctor will proceed with the treatment that has the best chance of effectiveness.
- Medication : There are many from which to choose. This treatment will try to lower the pressure in the eye by improving the fluid drainage from the eye or by decreasing the amount of fluid the eye creates.
- Laser treatment : The type of laser therapy depends on the type of glaucoma and the stage of the condition.
- Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is often used in combination with other treatment options and is used to treat primary open angle glaucoma when eye drop medications are not effective.
- Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) is used to treat angle-closure glaucoma.
- Laser cyclophotocoagulation is used when other treatment options are ineffective.
- Conventional surgery : Conventional surgery is used when the medications or laser therapy are unable to control the glaucoma.
- Trabeculectomy is where a surgeon creates a tiny drainage hole in the white part of the eye in order to lower eye pressure.
- Aqueous shunt surgery is where a drainage device is implanted in the eye. This is an option if a trabeculectomy does not help.
- XEN Gel Stent is a flexible non-degradable gelatin shunt that is implanted into the subconjunctival, or exposed mucous membrane. This creates a new drainage channel which reduces intra-ocular pressure.
Eyesight is a precious gift and one that we should strive to maintain at any cost. Consult a specialist if you are concerned that you may be at risk for glaucoma. You can make an appointment at Bumrungrad International Hospital’s Eye Center for a complete eye examination. The Eye Center is located on the 18th floor of Bumrungrad’s International Clinic Building and can be reached by dialing +66 2011 3891.
Written by Dr. Pinita Wanumkarng, Eye Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital