Glaucoma (lat. Glaucoma) is an eye disease that can lead to irreversible consequences, even blindness. The knowledge about the disease is still relatively low, even among those who already have been diagnosed. Glaucoma, which is associated with the damage of the optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells, contributes to significant deterioration of vision and, in severe cases, blindness.
Glaucoma affects an increasing number of people worldwide. Most often, the disease is diagnosed in people in their forties, but this does not mean that the disease can not also affect young people. The most common cause of glaucoma is the increase of pressure inside the eye, but of course there are many other factors that can lead to the development of this disease.
Currently, glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, there are still many people that don’t regularly examine their eyes, not to mention test their eye pressure.
The human eye is filled with a liquid, which continuously circulates and nourishes all tissues and maintains the intraocular pressure. In a healthy person, this liquid finds natural estuaries, however when the drain is closed – the pressure in the eye increases. When high pressure holds up for a longer period of time it leads to the earlier mentioned damage of the optic nerve. For many years it was thought that this is the primary cause of glaucoma.
There are two main types of glaucoma:
-Open-angle glaucoma – by far the most common form. Has no symptoms at first, however at some point peripheral vision is lost and without treatment total blindness will occur. Early treatment for this type of glaucoma will usually begin with medications (pills, ointments, eye drops) that either help the eye to drain fluid more effectively or cause it to produce less fluid. Several forms of laser surgery can also help fluid drain from the eye. Incisional surgery to create a new opening for fluid to drain is usually performed after all other treatment options fail.
-Closed-angle glaucoma – results from a sudden, complete blocking of the fluid out of the eye. Symptoms may include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and seeing a rainbow halo around lights. Close-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately or blindness could result rapidly.
Currently there is no “cure” for glaucoma, however early diagnosis and treatment can control glaucoma before vision loss or blindness occurs. There are several tests that can help your eye care professional detect glaucoma: these include a visual acuity test, visual field test, dilated eye exam, tonometry (measures the fluid pressure inside the eye), and pachymetry (determines cornea thickness). Individuals at high risk for glaucoma have a dilated pupil eye examination, and a visual field test annually.