How Do I Know if I Need Glaucoma Surgery?
The most common form of glaucoma, known as open-angle glaucoma, usually affects both eyes. The early stages don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. The condition is caused by a blockage that affects the circulation of the aqueous humor (the fluid in the eye) that flows in and out of the eye. This causes the pressure within the eye to rise. The condition usually develops slowly over several years, first affecting the peripheral vision.
Because of the slow progression, many people aren’t aware that their vision’s becoming impaired. For this reason, it’s normally picked up during a regular eye test or when your medical doctor determines you may be at risk and refers you to a glaucoma specialist. While it’s unclear as to why some people develop the condition, the following are known to be risk factors:
- Your ethnicity: Glaucoma is more common in those of Asian, African, Caribbean, and Hispanic descent.
- Your age: The condition becomes more common as you age. It’s less common in those aged under 40 (although not unknown, and, rarely, children can also be affected).
- Your family history: It’s known to be hereditary, so the risk factor is increased if a member of your immediate family has been diagnosed.
- You suffer from the following medical conditions: Hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia.
- You’ve been diagnosed with the following eye conditions: Thin corneas, high eye pressure, severe near or far-sightedness, or have a significant history of poor vision.
- You regularly take high doses of certain steroid medications: Such as prednisolone.
Other, less common, forms of glaucoma include:
- Closed-angle glaucoma: This occurs when the drainage of the eye fluid suddenly becomes blocked, causing a rapid increase in pressure within the eye. It’s caused by the iris (the colored part of the eye) changing position. It tends to happen in one eye and, when it occurs very quickly, is a medical emergency. When one eye has been affected the other eye is also at risk.
- Secondary glaucoma: This is due to a separate underlying condition, such as uveitis (an inflammatory condition of the eye), cataracts, or diabetes.
- Childhood glaucoma: Also called congenital glaucoma, it’s a rare condition that develops at a young age. It’s caused by an abnormality of the eye.