Glaucoma is a condition related to the eyes. It is, in fact, a group of eye disorders characterized by a progressive damage to the optic nerve. The gradual loss of nerve tissue leads to blurred vision and vision loss.
In fact, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Both the types of glaucoma – open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma – are linked to an increased intraocular fluid pressure in the eye, which may cause damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is a common condition in India and abroad. But still, a majority of patients may still not know that they have it. For example, 3 million people in the US alone have glaucoma. But nearly half of them are still unaware of it.
This article discusses everything about glaucoma, from its causes to diagnosis and treatment. In addition, it explores how common glaucoma is in India and around the world and why India should be the preferred destination for glaucoma treatment.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve over a period of time. The optic nerve is made up of millions of nerve fibers that help with the transmission of visual signals from the eye to the brain. The brain receives the signals from the eyes and processes the images so that the person can perceive them clearly.
Any damage to the optic nerve, thus, affects the transmission of visual signals. As a result, it diminishes the ability of the individual to see clearly as the signals do not reach the brain for further processing. The glaucoma eye may soon be characterized by a complete and permanent loss of vision if not treated on time.
In simple words, glaucoma is characterized by the loss of nerve tissue or nerve fibers within the optic nerve. In its advanced form, glaucoma disease may gradually lead to loss of vision and blindness in severe cases.
However, that does not mean that only people with increased fluid pressure inside the eye develop glaucoma. It can affect people with normal intraocular pressure as well. Glaucoma, thus, is not dependent on a specific pressure measurement and may develop if the pressure inside the eye is too high for that particular optic nerve.
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Leading Causes of Glaucoma
Researchers around the world are still unsure of the exact cause of glaucoma disease. A majority of cases are, however, categorized as primary or secondary glaucoma.
A patient is known to suffer from primary glaucoma when their condition cannot be linked to any specific known cause. On the other hand, secondary glaucoma has a direct cause, including the following:
What Puts You At An Increased Risk Of Glaucoma?
There are several factors that put an individual at an increased risk of glaucoma disease. Some of these common factors include the following:
Family History: Some patients with a family history of the condition may develop a glaucoma eye.
Age: People aged above 60 are at an increased risk of glaucoma disease. This age limit reduces to 40 in the case of African Americans.
Certain Medical Conditions: A history of diabetes, blood pressure fluctuation, and heart disease increases the risk of glaucoma. Both high and low blood pressure have been associated with a damage to the optic nerve, thereby causing vision loss due to glaucoma.
Sudden Injury: An injury to the eye may increase the pressure inside it, leading to damage to the optic nerve. This may trigger vision loss due to glaucoma.
Eye-related Factors: Certain conditions related to the eye such as tumour, inflammation, increased corneal thickness, nearsightedness (myopia), and retinal detachment may induce glaucoma.
Glaucoma Signs And Symptoms
The signs and symptoms associated with glaucoma disease may differ from one patient to another, depending on the type of glaucoma that they are suffering from. The symptoms of open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma are quite different.
In the case of open-angle glaucoma, the patient may feel a gradual loss of peripheral vision that primarily affects both the eyes at the same time. In case of advanced open-angle glaucoma disease, the patient may even have tunnel (narrowed) vision.
Patients with closed-angle glaucoma disease may experience the following signs and symptoms:
Severe pain in the glaucoma eye
Nausea and vomiting
Redness in the glaucoma eye
Halo-like glow around the affected eye
Vision problems, especially in dim light
It is easy to diagnose glaucoma, however, correct diagnosis of the condition largely depends on the experience of the ophthalmologist.
Eye care in India is globally renowned primarily because of the extensive experience and skills possessed by the best ophthalmologists in the country. The best eye hospitals in India have associated themselves with the leading experts in the field of eye care and are equipped with the latest technology used for diagnosis and treatment of eye-related conditions.
In India and abroad, the procedure for the diagnosis of glaucoma disease is the same. During the routine check-up of a patient with a specific set of symptoms, the doctor first uses an eye drop to dilate the pupil. This is done before testing the affected eye for vision.
Next, the ophthalmologist checks the optic nerve and identifies whether it looks the way how it typically looks in the case of glaucoma. If needed, the doctor would take a few photographs of the nerve to keep a check on the future progress of the condition.
The doctor may even perform a tonometry and visual field test to check for the fluid pressure inside the eye and any problems associated with the peripheral vision.
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Patients can avail best glaucoma treatment in India as any multi-specialty or eye care hospital. The Indian hospitals are renowned for their advanced infrastructure and treatment facilities, especially when it comes to the treatment of eye-related disorders.
The approach for treatment depends on the type of glaucoma that the patient has. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, the patient is treated on an emergency basis. The patient is first given a medication to reduce the pain in the eye.
Next, a procedure called iridotomy is conducted to reduce the pressure inside the eye. During iridotomy, a hole is created in the eye to make the fluid enter the optical drainage system. This way, the pressure inside the eye is relieved.
This procedure is usually performed on both the eyes even when only one of them is affected. This is because it spreads to the other eye as well sooner or later in the case of open-angle glaucoma.
The treatment for closed-angle glaucoma typically includes the use of following strategies:
Eye Drops: Eye drops are usually the first line of treatment advised by a doctor in the case of glaucoma. However, the use of eye drops may sometimes cause a few side effects such as retinal detachment, changes in the color of the eye, redness, and stinging sensation.
Trabeculoplasty: This is a surgical procedure conducted with the help of a laser. During this surgery, a laser beam is used to clear the drainage passage so that excess fluid inside the eye can eliminate easily.
Viscocanalostomy: During this surgery, the channels inside the eye are opened manually to improve drainage of the fluid. This is conducted only when laser surgery fails to achieve desirable results.
Aqueous Shunt Implant: This approach is mostly followed in children. A tiny silicone tube is attached to the eye to drain excess fluid and reduce pressure inside it.
Cyclophotocoagulation: This procedure targets the middle layer of the eye that produces fluid inside the eye. The main intention of this procedure is to reduce the production of the fluid.
The best eye hospitals in India offer all these approaches for the treatment of glaucoma. A line of treatment is suggested to the patient after a thorough assessment of his or her condition.
Can glaucoma be prevented?
There is nothing you can do to prevent glaucoma. However, early detection and diagnosis is the key to successful glaucoma treatment. Therefore, you must contact your doctor in case you experience any of the symptoms associated with glaucoma, or for that matter, any changes related to the visual capacity and overall appearance of the eye.
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India: Most Preferred Destination for Glaucoma Care
Eye care in India is delivered by some of the most experienced surgeons and specialists in the field of ophthalmology. A patient from abroad can stay assured of the quality of medical services offered at the best eye hospitals in India for glaucoma treatment.
Moreover, the cost of glaucoma treatment in India is one of the lowest in the world. This is despite the fact that the patient avails best glaucoma treatment in India delivered by top specialists with the help of latest technology and medications.
The following is the average cost of glaucoma treatment in India (surgery) and abroad:
The best hospitals for glaucoma treatment in India are equipped with the latest technology used to achieve 100 percent success results. Trabeculoplasty is the most common surgical procedure used for the treatment of patients with glaucoma.
The top hospitals for glaucoma surgery in India are equipped with both the types of technologies used to conduct trabeculoplasty – Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) and Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT). These hospitals are also equipped with emergency services and clinical and investigative laboratories to provide around the clock care to patients.
The following are some of the best eye hospitals in India for glaucoma treatment:
Thus, there are multiple reasons why a patient from abroad must choose India as their preferred destination for glaucoma treatment, including the following:
Low cost of treatment
Availability of experienced and skilled surgeons
All facilities under a single roof
Availability of the best hospitals
State-of-the-art technology and other facilities
Experienced and empathetic paramedical staff
Highly positive success record
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Glaucoma is a common, yet severe condition that may permanently lead to blindness. It is a misunderstood condition that must be detected at an early stage for complete and successful treatment.
India is one of the leading destinations for glaucoma treatment in the world. The country has carved a name for itself at a global level by offering affordable glaucoma treatment to patients from around the world while delivering the highest standards of care.
Eye care in India is delivered through a huge network of hospitals and clinics. All of them have associated themselves with the top ophthalmologists in the country, who are highly skilled and experienced in the field of eye surgery.