What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma or ‘Kala Motia’ is a condition where increased intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve thereby leading to defective vision. Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that slowly and painlessly takes away your sight. That’s the reason it is called ‘Silent Thief of Sight’.


How common is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness. It has been identified to be the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. About 60 million people are estimated to be affected by glaucoma. Of these about 11.2 million cases are from the Indian subcontinent.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

There are typically no early warning signs or painful symptoms of open-angle glaucoma. It develops slowly and sometimes without noticeable sight loss for many years. By the time a patient is aware of vision loss, the disease is usually quite advanced.  But some may experience the following and should get their eyes screened for glaucoma.

  • Inability to adjust the eyes to darkened room as theaters.
  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision.
  • Blurred vision.

Who is at risk?

It is important for each of us to have our eyes checked regularly, because early detection and treatment of glaucoma are the only way to prevent vision impairment and blindness. Some of the risk factors are

  • Age over 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Abnormally high intraocular pressure
  • Myopia
  • Long term steroid use
  • Previous eye injury
  • Extremely high or low blood pressure
  • Diabetes

How does one diagnose glaucoma?

Glaucoma can be diagnosed even before one has symptoms using various tools

  • Tonometer
  • Pachymeter
  • Gonioscopy
  • Visual field test
  • Ophthalmoscopy

What is the treatment for glaucoma?

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser surgery, traditional surgery or newer artificial valve surgery.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The goal of treatment is to prevent further loss of vision.

Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible.

Primary open angle glaucoma.

This develops when the trabecular meshwork becomes less efficient in draining fluid. As this happens, the eye pressure (intraocular pressure) gradually rises. The raised pressure damages the optic nerve.

Damage to the optic nerve can occur at different pressures among different individuals. The ophthalmologist determines a target pressure for an individual that will protect his/ her optic nerve from further damage. Different individuals have different target pressures.

Yes, in some people the optic nerve may get damaged at an eye pressure that is below the normal eye pressure of 21 mm Hg. They are said to suffer from normal tension glaucoma.

In this condition, one has an eye pressure that is higher than normal but there is no sign of optic nerve damage or glaucoma. These individuals should be closely monitored  and must receive appropriate treatment as they are at high risk of developing glaucoma.

In this condition the drainage angle gets completely blocked and can lead to rise in eye pressure. The patient may have severe eye or brow pain, redness, decreased vision, headache, nausea and seeing colored haloes. This is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.

Children can develop congenital glaucoma when the eye development is not normal. This can often lead to blindness if not diagnosed and treated early.

Yes, secondary glaucoma can occur after eye injury, long term steroid therapy or due to a tumor in the eye.

The eye drops should be taken regularly and on time as prescribed. Never change or stop taking medications without talking to the eye doctor.

If you are 40 years or older, you should have a comprehensive eye examination every one and a half to two years.