Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions characterised by damage to the optic nerve, usually following an increase in pressure of the fluid within the eyeball. This pressure is called Intraocular Pressure (IOP). This is usually accompanied by a loss of vision, which may vary from a slight loss of vision to complete blindness.

Glaucoma usually occurs in people over 40 years of age. The eye is filled with a liquid called aqueous humour, secreted by membranes lining the eye. Normal pressure within the eye is maintained by allowing some of this fluid to drain away via an outflow pathway. When the outflow pathway is blocked for some reason, aqueous humour continues to build up causing an increase in pressure within the eyeball. Increased pressure can eventually damage the delicate optic nerve at the back of the eye, causing scarring. This nerve is the link between your eyes and brain. Blood supply may also be reduced to the optic nerve fibres. Untreated Glaucoma can lead to blindness.

Categories of Glaucoma include:
Primary Glaucoma
• Open-angle Glaucoma.
• Closed angle Glaucoma.
• Congenital (infantile) Glaucoma.

Primary Glaucoma accounts for most diagnosed Glaucoma cases. This condition may result in peripheral (side) vision loss or coloured halos around lights. There is gradual vision loss over a period of years affecting both eyes. Pain may be felt in the eye from increased pressure within the eyeball. Other symptoms include mild headaches and vague visual problems. A frequent need to change prescriptions for glasses may also be a warning sign. This condition can often have no obvious symptoms and may only be detected on medical examination.

Secondary Glaucoma this type of Glaucoma arises because of a pre-existing disease of the eye such as a tumour, an enlarged cataract or inflammation within the eye.

Absolute Glaucoma - this type of Glaucoma is likely to appear as the end stage of all Glaucomas. Early diagnosis and treatment help to minimise the chances of Glaucoma progressing to this stage. Always consult your Doctor if you suspect there is a problem with your eyes.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
As with all conditions, always consult your Doctor. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition and can provide you with the latest advice on this ailment. Your Doctor diagnoses glaucoma through a simple and painless test. Your Doctor may prescribe eye drops that can help control the onset of the disease. In all cases, remain under the supervision of your Doctor. Drugs are commonly used in the management of Glaucoma, although some cases may be referred for surgical management.

DIET HINTS
• Vitamin C helps maintain the strength of collagen in the body. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, cabbage, pineapple, potato, parsley and broccoli) in the diet each day.
• Bioflavonoids assist with the normal metabolism of collagen in the body. Bioflavonoids are also found in fruits and vegetables, particularly the pith of citrus fruits.
• Vitamin B1 deficiency may be associated with Glaucoma. Include whole grains, wheatgerm, nuts, liver and pork in the diet.
• Eliminate any possible food allergens.
• Avoid caffeine as it may affect fluid pressure in the eye.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
Vitamins and minerals may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Always stay on the medication prescribed by your Doctor.
• Vitamin C combines well the bioflavonoid rutin to reduce pain and intraocular pressure.
• Chromium is particularly important for people with diabetes as it can assist with their blood sugar balance and prevention of glaucoma.
• Magnesium can lower eye pressure by relaxing the blood vessels supplying the eye.
• Bilberry may help prevent future blood vessel damage in the eye. Bilberry may help maintain night vision.
• Ginkgo has been shown to be beneficial for glaucoma as it can improve blood flow and contains flavonoids, which support eye structure and function.
• Eyebright is useful in the treatment of many eye disorders.

NOTES
It is essential that the pressure in the eyes is tested regularly, particularly in individuals with a family history of Glaucoma.
Everyone over 40 years of age should have an eye test at least every 2 years. The disease creeps up on the sufferer and it is initially easy to dismiss vision loss as a consequence of advancing age. If there is any doubt, see your Doctor immediately.

ORGANISATIONS & SUPPORT GROUPS
Glaucoma Society of India (http://www.glaucomaindia.com/)

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. If you have any queries regarding your prescriptive medication, ask your Pharmacist. It is very important to use the medication on a regular basis.
3. Hints On Using Eye Drops: Use drops regularly. Keeping the drops cool (in the refrigerator) helps to feel the drops go into the eye. Keep an extra bottle of eye drops available so that you never run out. Always use the drops even when the eyesight is blurred and the eyes are uncomfortable. If you are using more than one type of eye drop, wait at least 5 minutes before inserting the different drop.