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Glaucoma
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“Kala Motia” or “Glaucoma” is a silent thief of sight. It is the third leading cause of blindness in India. 12million people are affected accounting for 12.8 per cent of the country`s blindness. This is expected to grow to 16 million by 2020.

Glaucoma is caused by the build-up of pressure in the eyes, which can eventually cause blindness. A fluid known as aqueous nourishes the front part of the eye. In a normal eye the fluid gets continually drained which helps maintain optimal pressure inside the eye. With age, disease, trauma or other factors, the channels draining aqueous (nourishing fluid of the eye) get blocked. This results in increased pressure inside the eye which damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve transfers visual messages to the brain. When it gets damaged, it impairs the visual ability of an individual.

There is no proven way to prevent glaucoma. Frequent monitoring, regular checkups can help detect the disease in its early stage. Glaucoma can affect any age group, including newborn, infants, children and the elderly. Blindness from glaucoma is irreversible. Early detection is the key to preserve vision. Once detected, glaucoma can be controlled by medicines (eye drops) or surgery to prevent further vision loss.


Types of Glaucoma

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma affecting people according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). It is a silent vision stealer. It doesn’t give symptoms in the early stage but gradually causes loss of peripheral vision first.

The affected people may not notice the loss of vision and by the time they visit an ophthalmologist, they may have lost a lot of vision – which can never be regained because of permanent damage to the optic nerve-before it gets diagnosed. In later stage, Glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision, where you can just see straight and it can eventually lead to blindness. In Normal Tension Glaucoma even at lower intraocular pressure there may be damage to the optic nerve due to factors such as decreased blood flow into the eye.

In Angle Closure or (acute) Glaucoma there is a sudden rise in eye pressure and it can cause severe eye pain, blurred vision, sudden visual disturbances, halos around lights, reddening of the eye, nausea and vomiting. This form usually requires immediate treatment.

Tests For Glaucoma

Tonometry
Gonioscopy

Symptoms

Glaucoma at first has no symptoms. It causes no pain, and vision stays normal. Vision slowly worsens. Peripheral vision gradually deteriotes thus slowly reducing the field of vision. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes.

Poor night vision.
Blurred vision.
Headache.
Seeing coloured Halos around lights.
Frequent change of reading glasses.
Perimetry.


Treatment Options

There is no cure for glaucoma. Damage done to the optic nerve is permanent. There are, however, many treatment options that can minimize the effect and prevent further damage. Treatments include eye drops,laser trabeculoplasty, or conventional surgery. These treatments are often used together.

Majority of patients are managed by simple eye drops alone. There are plenty of combinations of these available and your doctor decides what is best for you. Medication can be used to reduce eye pressure, preventing further damage to the optic nerve. Eye drops are the most common type of medicine. Pills may also be used.

What Glaucoma Patients Must Do

Take your medicines exactly as prescribed.
Use the right drop in the right eye t the right time in the right way.
Try to schedule time for taking medication around your daily routines such as on waking up, during meal times and at bedtime.
Drinking large quantities of water on empty stomach in early morning should be stopped. This habit temporarily increases the intra-ocular pressure.