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Understanding Glaucoma: A Comprehensive Guide

In an increasingly health-conscious world, understanding and dealing with eye conditions such as glaucoma is crucial. 

At Best Practice Eyecare, our team led by the experienced ophthalmologist, Dr Karpa, is devoted to helping patients understand, manage, and treat various eye conditions including glaucoma. Let’s delve into a comprehensive understanding of Glaucoma and why it’s essential to recognise it early.

Glaucoma is a collective term for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, potentially leading to vision loss or blindness. It is known as the ‘sneak thief of sight’ as it often exhibits no symptoms until significant vision loss occurs.

Understanding glaucoma means understanding the role of intraocular pressure (IOP). This pressure is created by the constant production and drainage of a fluid known as aqueous humour. If this drainage system becomes inefficient, the fluid build-up can lead to an increase in IOP, which can then damage the optic nerve.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common types seen in Australia include open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma. According to Glaucoma Australia, glaucoma affects over 300,000 people nationwide, with up to 50% of cases remaining undiagnosed.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form, affecting approximately 90% of glaucoma patients in Australia. It is characterised by a slow clogging of the drainage canals, resulting in increased eye pressure. It develops slowly and is a lifelong condition.

On the other hand, angle-closure glaucoma, although uncommon, is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. This type happens when the drain space between the iris and cornea becomes too narrow, leading to a sudden rise in intraocular pressure.

Regardless of the type, early detection of glaucoma is essential. A comprehensive eye examination can reveal early signs of glaucoma before symptoms start to appear. At Best Practice Eyecare, we use advanced diagnostic tools that allow for early detection and effective management of glaucoma.

Apart from regular eye checks, being aware of the risk factors can aid in early detection. Risk factors include age, family history, myopia, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes. If you fall into any of these categories, regular eye checks should be a part of your health routine.

When it comes to treatment, Glaucoma can’t be cured, but its progression may be slowed down or halted with appropriate intervention. The goal of any treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure, and damage to the cells of the optic nerve. This can be achieved through medication, laser treatment, or surgery.

It’s vital to remember that even if glaucoma cannot be cured, it may still be managed effectively if detected early. This point can’t be stressed enough and is the reason why regular eye examinations are crucial, particularly for those over the age of 40 or those with a family history of glaucoma. 

As per Glaucoma Australia, you’re ten times more likely to develop glaucoma if you have a direct family member with the condition.

Interestingly, research indicates a correlation between physical fitness and glaucoma. 

A study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology found that physically active people were 73% less likely to develop the condition. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always beneficial for overall health.

With modern medical advances, there are numerous treatment options available that can help slow down the progression of glaucoma and help maintain your quality of life. 

For example, selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a common, non-invasive laser treatment used to manage open-angle glaucoma. It helps improve the drainage system in the eye, thereby decreasing intraocular pressure.

In some cases, when eye drops and laser procedures aren’t effective in controlling eye pressure, more invasive surgery may be required. 

Managing glaucoma goes beyond medical procedures. Living with glaucoma means adapting to new routines, such as remembering to take medication regularly and dealing with possible side effects. 

It also means adjusting to a potential change in vision and learning to maximise the use of remaining vision. Support and resources are available from organisations like Glaucoma Australia to help individuals navigate these changes.

Importantly, the psychological impact of glaucoma should not be overlooked. Dealing with any long-term condition can bring about feelings of anxiety and fear. At Best Practice Eyecare, Dr Karpa and his team understand these concerns and are committed to providing holistic care that addresses not just the physical symptoms, but also the psychological and emotional aspects of dealing with glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a complex eye condition with far-reaching effects on individuals’ lives. It is more than just an eye condition; it’s a life-long journey. That’s why at Best Practice Eyecare, we’re not just focused on treating the condition – we’re here to support patients every step of the way on their glaucoma journey. 

With proper understanding, early detection, and the right treatment and support, people with glaucoma can lead fulfilling lives.

Love your eyes. Get them checked.

Best Practice Eyecare Ophthalmologists

Based on the Sunshine Coast, we provide ophthalmologist, eye care and surgical services of the highest standard. We treat and manage a wide range of eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration and more.

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