Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve and can cause blindness. Despite being a disease of the elderly, it can affect children and young adults. Glaucoma can arise when the natural fluids of the eye do not drain properly, which causes the increase in intraocular pressure. Over time, high intraocular pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause glaucoma to develop.
Who has the possibility of suffering it?
Everyone can develop glaucoma, but it is more common in people who:
- They are over 45 years old.
- They have a family history of glaucoma.
- They have abnormally high intraocular pressure.
- They are descendants of Africans.
- Have diabetes
- They have myopia.
- They have a history of regular and long-term use of steroids or cortisone.
- They have suffered a previous eye injury.
What are your symptoms?
At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It does not cause pain and vision remains normal.
Without treatment, people with glaucoma slowly lose their lateral (peripheral) vision. It is as if they were looking through a tunnel. Over time, the central vision (forward) may also decrease until it is completely lost. Glaucoma can develop in one eye or both.
How is it diagnosed?
Undergoing frequent and routine eye exams is the best way to detect glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist will check the eye's drainage angle (gonioscopy), evaluate the optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy, OCT), measure the eye pressure (tonometry) and check the visual field of each eye (computerized perimetry). The information collected from these tests is periodically compared to determine if glaucoma damage has progressed over time. Periodic controls play a crucial role in the early detection of glaucoma.
Can glaucoma be treated?
Yes. Immediate treatment in the first stage of open-angle glaucoma can delay disease progression. That is why it is very important that glaucoma is diagnosed in time.
Treatment for glaucoma includes medications, laser surgery (trabeculoplasty), conventional surgery or a combination of any of these methods. Although these treatments can protect your eyesight, they do not improve eyesight that you have already lost due to glaucoma.
Why doesn't the patient realize that he is losing vision?
In glaucoma, visual loss begins in the peripheral area of the visual field, on which we are less dependent, and it happens slowly. These are the factors why the patient is not aware of the deterioration of his vision.
From what age can it appear?
In general, glaucoma is a disease that appears after 40 years. The risk of glaucoma increases with age; However, there are subtypes of glaucoma that debut at an early age.
What causes optic nerve injury in Glaucoma?
The increase in intraocular tension is the main factor involved in optic nerve damage, although there are others. The increase in tension is caused by difficulty in the exit of the liquid that nourishes the inside of the eyeball, called aqueous humor.
Is having high intraocular pressure synonymous with glaucoma?
Not everyone who has high intraocular pressure develops glaucoma. In addition, a time is required for said pressure increase to cause nerve damage. But having it high increases the risk of nerve damage.
What is normal intraocular pressure?
It is generally considered to be elevated when it is above 21 mm.Hg.
How can I know if I have glaucoma?
You should see your Ophthalmologist to check intraocular pressure annually starting at 40 years. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you should go before that age to review.
Are there hereditary factors?
Having first-degree relatives who suffer from glaucoma increases the risk of this disease, but it does not mean that it will develop in all cases.
Is glaucoma cured after surgery?
No. Glaucoma is a chronic disease that causes an unrecoverable decrease in vision. The purpose of the surgery is to reduce the ocular tension to stop the loss of vision caused by the damage of the optic nerve, but not to recover the lost fibers.