What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is classified as a group of diseases which damage the Optic nerve. It is also known as the ‘silent thief of sight’ as in most cases, does not have any symptoms until late stages.
Glaucoma is usually related to elevated Intraocular (eye) pressure which damages the optic nerve, causes loss of peripheral visual field.
If left untreated, it can cause permanent vision loss eventually.
Glaucoma causes loss of peripheral visual field.
How common is glaucoma?
The two main types of glaucoma in Singapore are:
- Open – angle Glaucoma
- Closed – angle Glaucoma
3% of population in Singapore over 50 years of age and 7% over 70 years will develop this disease.
Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is more common in Chinese than Indian or Malay populations.
In Singaporean Chinese, 60% of adult blindness is caused by Glaucoma, and Singapore has one of the highest rates of closed-angle Glaucoma worldwide.
Angle – closure glaucoma occurs when aqueous fluid is unable to drain out from the eyeball. This can sometimes present as an emergency with very raised intra-ocular pressure when 3600 of angle within the eyeball becomes shut off , causing very rapidly to immediate loss of vision.
What causes glaucoma?
Who is at higher risk of glaucoma?
- Everyone over 60 years of age
- Chinese race over 50 years, especially females
- Family history of glaucoma
- Previous eye surgery or trauma
How is Glaucoma detected?
With a comprehensive dilated eye examination.
Dr Natasha Lim will examine the drainage structure of your eye, the Optic nerve and Retina using a slit-lamp microscope.
People over 50 years of age are recommended to have glaucoma screening by an Eye Specialist like Dr Natasha Lim every 2 years.
People with risk factors for glaucoma such as family history or previous eye surgery should be examined every 1-2 years.
Can Glaucoma be prevented or improved?
Open angle glaucoma can only be detected and treated with drops and/or surgery.
Closed angles may be treated with laser iridotomies (A tiny hole is made in the Iris muscle using laser to allow fluid to drain from the eye) to prevent glaucoma from developing, by early cataract surgery if there is already the presence of a cataract.
Glaucoma is an irreversible disease and cannot be improved as damage to the optic nerve is permanent.
How is glaucoma treated?
With Eyedrops, Laser or Surgery depending on the type and severity of the condition.
Eyedrops are usually put in once or twice daily to reduce the eye pressure.
Laser is done as a simple chair procedure lasting 5-10 minutes and is painless.
Surgery involves making an alternative drainage path for the fluid to escape and is called Trabeculectomy Drainage Surgery.
This surgery allows for a good long term control of Eye pressure and has a very good chance of stabilizing the disease.
Authored by: Dr Natasha Lim