The Sight Silencer

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

The eye is the organ of vision. It detects light and converts it to electrochemical impulses that are carried by the optic nerves to the brain. The eye balls contain a fluid called aqueous humour (it maintains the pressure needed to inflate the eye). This fluid is constantly produced by the eye, excess fluid drain through tubes at the angle where the iris and cornea meet. When the fluid is not properly drained, pressure builds up in the eye which can lead to glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that result in a progressive optic nerve damage. The optic nerves transmit visual information from the retina to the brain via electrical impulses. Glaucoma gradually reduces the visual field and leads to irreversible blindness if untreated. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide after cataract.

The types of glaucoma are:

·         Open-angle Glaucoma: It is caused by increased pressure in the eye as a result of slow clogging of the drainage canals. It develops slowly with symptoms and damages that are not easily noticed.

·         Angle-closure Glaucoma: It is caused by increased eye pressure as a result of blocked drainage canals. It develops quickly with noticeable symptoms and damages. It is also called narrow-angle or acute glaucoma.

·         Normal-tension Glaucoma: It develops without any increase in the eye pressure but destruction on the optic nerve.

·         Congenital Glaucoma: It occurs in babies that were born with an incomplete or incorrect development of the eye drainage canal. Surgery may be used to correct the defect.

Other types of glaucoma include secondary glaucoma, traumatic glaucoma, pigmentary glaucoma and neovascular glaucoma. Major factors that expose people to glaucoma are

Ø  Age: The risk to glaucoma increases with age. People above 60 have a higher risk.

Ø  Ethnicity and Sex: Africans and Europeans are more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma while Asians suffer more from angle-closure glaucoma. Females also have a higher risk of glaucoma because of their shallow anterior chamber.

Ø  Genetic: People from families with history of glaucoma are more likely to develop the disease.

Other facts include the prolonged use of steroids, medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases and other eye diseases such as retinal detachment. Smoking, alcohol use and female reproductive hormones are not associated with the development of glaucoma.

Treatment used for glaucoma aims at reducing the pressure within the eye. Most prescribed glaucoma drugs are prostaglandins. Eye drops could also be used or laser treatment or surgery. Early detection, prompt treatment and monitoring can help control it and reduce the chances of vision loss.




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