Facts About Pigmentary Glaucoma

Glaucoma consist of several types of disorders of the eye, pigmentary glaucoma being one type which, fortunately, is rather rare. The primary symptom of glaucoma in the eye is the buildup of internal eye pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP). This buildup, if untreated, can ever damage the optic nerve and in a worst case scenario, result in blindness.

The interior of the eye is filled with a fluid, aqueous humor. The eye is constructed to allow occasional draining or discharge of some of this fluid to prevent the internal pressure of the eye from becoming too great. When glaucoma is present, the drainage mechanism has been interrupted, leading to increasing pressure. This usually occurs without causing pain or other noticeable symptoms, and often is not detected until significant damage to the eye has already been done.

Pigmentary glaucoma occurs as the result of a condition known as the pigment dispersion syndrome. Pigment granules are normally attached to the back of the iris. These granules can sometimes flake off into the aqueous humor, and eventually find their way to the interior eye drainage canals where, over a period of time, the granules will begin to block the canals. Once that happens, the pressure on the interior of the eye will begin to increase. At the point where this pressure begins to cause damage to the optic nerve, the pigment dispersion syndrome has developed into pigmentary glaucoma.

This rare disease occurs in men more so than women, and tend to strike men in their twenties and thirties. In addition, myopic (nearsighted) people seem to be at a slightly higher risk of contracting pigmentary glaucoma than for those having normal vision or are farsighted. Sometimes, the first, and only, signs that the condition is present, comes during or immediately following exercise, such as jumping or jogging, where vision may become temporarily blurred. More often than not, noticeable symptoms do not occur.

Pigmentary glaucoma is treatable when not too far advanced. Treatment is designed to prevent a further flaking off of the pigment granules, and usually is in the form of eye drops, Optipranlol and Xalatan being two medications commonly prescribed. In addition there is a class of drugs called miotics, which sometimes are called into play. Most of these treatments cause no significant side effects, although incidences of blurred vision sometimes occur which may restrict their use. In recent years, laser surgery has been employed to open the drain canals and treat the pressure. Another laser-based treatment is to create a small hole in the iris. These results in the iris moving slightly away from the lens, lessening the chance of pigment dispersion which occurs when lens fibers scrape against the iris.

Other types of glaucoma generally strike in later years, although myopic individuals are still slightly more at risk, and tend to get the disease earlier in life. No matter what one's age is, glaucoma of any type is a threat to one's vision and any problems associated with vision should be promptly looked into.