Glaucoma is a group of serious eye conditions that cause increased pressure inside your eye. Here's what you need to know about one of the rarer forms of glaucoma, malignant glaucoma.
Is malignant glaucoma a type of cancer?
Malignant means that a medical condition is likely to get worse as time goes on, but the word is usually used to describe cancer. This makes people think that malignant glaucoma is some form of eye cancer, but it's not; it's a form of glaucoma that worsens over time. To avoid scaring their patients unnecessarily, optometrists sometimes call it either aqueous misdirection syndrome or ciliovitreal block.
If it's not cancer, what is it?
Malignant glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that usually forms after getting surgery on your eyes for another problem, like cataracts. It seems to be caused by poor motion of fluids through the vitreous, the gel-like filling inside your eye. The fluids push against the front of your eye, and press your iris against the small tubes that drain fluids from your eyes. This leads to high pressure inside your eye.
What are the signs of malignant glaucoma?
This type of glaucoma causes eye pain and vision changes. You may experience blurred vision, see colored circles around bright lights, or even lose your sight completely. Stay alert for these changes in your eyes after you get eye surgery, and make sure to tell your optometrist if you notice any problems.
Can malignant glaucoma be treated?
Malignant glaucoma is one of the hardest types of glaucoma for optometrists to treat, but there are some treatments available. The treatment that optometrists try first is medication. There are many medications that can be used to treat malignant glaucoma. These can be given in either eye drop or gel form.
When medications don't work, surgery is the next step. A common surgical treatment is vitrectomy, which is surgical removal of some of the vitreous. This surgery will be performed by an ophthalmologist, a type of surgeon that specializes in eye surgery. This procedure lowers the pressure inside your eye, but it may need to be repeated in the future once your body replaces the vitreous.
Malignant glaucoma is a very rare type of glaucoma that usually occurs as a complication of eye surgeries. If you think you have it, or are concerned that you might be at risk, talk to an optometrist (such as one from Baldwin Optical & Hearing Aid Co.) right away.