Glaucoma - Toronto Malpractice Lawyer
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Glaucoma - Overview
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the pressure in the eye is high, affecting vision. It is actually a cluster of related conditions that cause high pressure in the eye. In some cases, the condition severely affects vision while in others, it does not cause vision problems. Even so, it is one of the major causes of permanent blindness in the US. Vision changes can be gradual or rather sudden. It is important to diagnose the condition when it is in its early stages.
Symptoms of glaucoma differ when compared to which kind of glaucoma it is. There is open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma, which have very different symptoms.
In primary open-angle glaucoma, the signs and symptoms are:
- Loss of peripheral vision in both eyes, which is gradual
- In advanced stages, there will be tunnel vision
In acute angle-closure glaucoma, the signs and symptoms are:
- Pain in the eye
- Sudden onset of visual changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Halos around lights
- Blurry vision
- Red eyes
They can be primary conditions if no known cause is found, or secondary, if they are caused by another condition. Other conditions include an inflammatory condition of the eye, a tumor, diabetes or severe cataracts. Damage to the optic nerve seems to be associated with getting glaucoma. The increase in pressure is caused by excess fluid which normally flows inside and outside the eye freely.
In primary open-angle glaucoma, there is a normal angle which is made by the iris and the cornea but the drainage channels within the angle are blocked so that fluid drains outside of the eye too slowly and the pressure builds up. It often happens too slowly to have much in the way of symptoms.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the iris bulges forward and blocks the drainage angle. Pressure builds up and the patient gets glaucoma. Symptoms can occur slowly or quickly, giving the rapid onset of symptoms. Some people are born with an abnormally narrow angle so they can get glaucoma more easily. If your pupils are dilated by the doctor and you have a narrow angle for drainage, you can get a sudden onset of glaucoma.
In normal tension glaucoma, the optic nerve gets damaged. The actual pressure in your eye remains in the normal range for reasons doctors do not know. They believe that it may be due to an abnormal blood supply to the optic nerve, such as is seen in atherosclerosis.
Children and babies can be diagnosed with glaucoma. This is called congenital glaucoma or infantile glaucoma. It develops up to age 5 and has no symptoms. The optic nerve damage does happen, and vision can be affected.
Risk factors for glaucoma include the following:
- Having an elevated intraocular pressure on a normal basis. It doesn’t have to turn into glaucoma in all cases.
- Older age. The greatest risk is over 60, especially if you are of Mexican heritage. People of African heritage have a much greater risk of glaucoma.
- African Americans should be tested by age 40. Asians have an increased risk of getting acute angle closure glaucoma.
- People with a family history of glaucoma have an increased risk of getting the disease.
- People with heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism or high blood pressure are at an increased risk of getting glaucoma.
- People with severe eye injuries, eye tumors, detachment of the retina, dislocation of the lens, or eye inflammation.
- People with long term use of steroid, especially steroid eye drops.
Complications of untreated or poorly treated glaucoma include tunnel vision, blind areas in the peripheral vision and complete blindness.
Tests for the disease include measuring the intraocular pressure, testing for damage to the optic nerve, vision testing and measuring the thickness of the cornea with a test called pachymetry.