Glaucoma, which is known in layman’s terms as green star, is a disease of the eye. There is damage to the optical nerve as a result of increased eye pressure. Glaucoma usually develops slowly and the impact on the vision often goes unnoticed for a long time. If there is a sudden, strong increase in pressure in the eye, this can cause an episode of glaucoma with severe eye pain.
The pressure in the eye is determined by the intraocular fluid. This is continuously produced and drips down in the iridocorneal angle of the eye. There is usually an increase in pressure in the eye if the outflow of the intraocular fluid is impeded or if production increases. The optic nerve is damaged by the increase in pressure in the eye. Besides the increase in pressure, diabetes, high blood pressure or severe inflammation in the eye causes damage to the visual nerve. Glaucoma can occur at every age. From the age of 40, the risk of falling ill with glaucoma greatly increases. Therefore, older people should have their eye pressure checked regularly.
As the eye pressure normally increases gradually, those affected often do not notice anything untoward for a long time. With time, this results in vision problems which impact on the peripheral vision. The field of vision starts to reduce in size. If vision problems occur or something is not right with the eye, this should be immediately be checked by a doctor. The earlier that glaucoma is detected, the more likely it is that damage to the optic nerve can still be prevented.
Sometimes this results in a sudden increase in pressure in the eye, which is known as an acute glaucoma episode. This manifests itself through sudden visual disorders, coloured rings in front of the eyes, severe pain, reddened eye, headaches and nausea. An acute episode of glaucoma is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.
Glaucoma is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms and by measuring the pressure in the eye.
The treatment depends on the cause of the glaucoma and is performed on an outpatient basis. Eye drops can be administered to lower the eye pressure. If there is an obstruction which prevents the outflow of intraocular fluid, this can be remedied with surgery.