Q. : What is Glaucoma?

Ans : Glaucoma is a disease of eye in which there is a gradual damage of the optic nerve, the nerve fibres responsible for vision, due to a variety of reasons with or without an increase in intraocular pressure.

Q. : What happens in Glaucoma?

Ans : When an eye is affected with glaucoma, it gradually loses vision leading to a complete and irreversible blindness. There is no medicine or surgery available so far once the vision is lost due to glaucoma. So it is important to detect and treat it early. Once a proper treatment is done one can retain the vision.

Q. : What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

Ans : Glaucoma can be acute and chronic. In acute glaucoma there is a lot of pain in the eye and headache, nausea and vomiting, a very red eye associated with a sharp decrease in vision. It is a medical emergency and if not treated in time a person can lose his eyesight permanently within 2 or 4 days.

Q. : What is Chronic Glaucoma?

Ans : A Chronic Glaucoma is a silent killer. Many a times a person may be having it for a long time, but it is totally unaware of it, till he has lost 75% to 85% of his vision, without any symptoms. Sometimes a person does not feel anything more than a little discomfort in the eye or a little grittiness. Sometimes it causes frequent changes in glasses, after 40 years of age, rainbow haloes around bulbs, fluctuating vision or sometimes mild headaches.

Q. : What are my chances of getting Glaucoma?

Ans : Glaucoma is a familial disease. If somebody has glaucoma in the family it increases our chances of being glaucomatous by 5 to 25%.
About 2 to 3% of general population after the age of 40 years develops chronic glaucoma. Diabetes, High blood pressure, Tobacco habit and some disease of the eye can cause glaucoma.
It is always better to get a periodical check up by an eye surgeon after the age of 40. One should get his pressure of the eyes checked up once in every 1 ½ years to 2 years after 40.

Q. : Glaucoma always leads to blindness – Is it true?

Ans : No. Only when detected very late it is difficult for an eye surgeon to save the eye. But when detected in time this condition is well treated, mostly with the use of eye drops. Sometimes one may need surgery when it is not controlled by medicines only. The present glaucoma surgeries are highly safe and successful and one very rarely loses eyesight nowadays due to glaucoma.

Q. : What are the tests one needs to undergo in glaucoma?

Ans : Apart from check up of vision, one needs to check up his eye pressures (called intraocular pressure, IOP), check up of angles of eye (Gonioscopy). Field of vision (perimetry) is an extremely important tool for diagnosis and progression of the disease. It needs to be repeated 2 to 3 times in a year to see if the treatment is properly working. The doctor should also see the status of the Optic nerve regularly.