Glaucoma is a general term which refers to conditions that damages the optic nerves. The optic nerves are the nerves that send visual signals to the brain.
It has been estimated that 1.1 to 1.4 million people have Glaucoma in Nigeria. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Nigeria and the world as a whole.
Due to the low awareness rate, there have been more cases of glaucoma-caused blindness which could have been avoided. Early detection can reduce the risk of going blind due to Glaucoma. This can be ensured by awareness programs and thorough eye screenings.
Glaucoma which can affect people of any age, is more prevalent in people above the age of 30. Hence, the importance of making regular comprehensive eye tests a priority.
Causes of Glaucoma
Glaucoma occurs as a result of damage to one’s optic nerves. This is caused by an increase in the eye pressure. If the optic nerves are not functioning, these could cause blind spots in one’s field of vision. This increase in eye pressure could be due to build up of aqueous humor in the eyes caused by an overproduction of aqueous humor or a drainage problem in the eyes.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma could be open-angle glaucoma , angle-closure glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma or pigmentary glaucoma. Similarly, children could also have glaucoma.
Individuals who have glaucoma are likely to experience some if not all of the following;
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Halos around lights
- Severe eye pain
- Redness of the eye
- Nausea and vomiting
Falling into one or more of these categories may make one more prone to Glaucoma. These include;
- High ocular (eye) pressure
- A family history of glaucoma
- Aged above 30 years
- Being extremely near or far-sighted
- Having corneas with thin centers
Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
It is possible to have glaucoma but it can be prevented. Below are a few tips that could help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma;
- Early detection by going for regular comprehensive eye tests
- Regular exercises
- Knowing your family history which would help in understanding your risk of getting it
- Taking prescribed eye drops judiciously
- Making use of protective eye wear when engaging in dangerous activities that could affect one’s eyesight
Due to the irreversibility of Glaucoma, it as advised that measures be taken consciously to reduce the risk of developing it. However, if an individual has been diagnosed with glaucoma, there are treatments:
- Eye drops which would either increase outflow of aqueous humor or reduce its production
- Oral Medication
- Laser treatment
Above all, it is very important that you take out time to visit the nearest eye hospital for comprehensive eye tests and surgery if necessary.