Glaucoma affects over
70 million people worldwide, and has become a leading cause of blindness worldwide. There is no cure for glaucoma, but its long-term effects can be prevented with early detection, medication and other treatments, including surgery.
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease involving multiple components and mechanisms. Mainly, it is considered a problem of the eye’s “outflow” system which regulates pressure within the eye. In most forms of glaucoma, including primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), fluid builds up in the eye and causes an increase in the pressure inside the eye (IOP). Over time, the increased pressure may damage the optic nerve, and nerve fibers within the retina, causing an irreversible loss of peripheral vision. If left untreated, glaucoma can eventually cause complete blindness of the affected eye.
The most common form of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma, has no symptoms until late in the disease process, too late to prevent vision loss. Glaucoma can only be detected by your doctor by measuring the pressure within the eye and evaluating the health of the optic nerve and neuroretinal function. These painless and non-invasive tests are conducted at routine eye examinations.
Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, although certain factors may increase that risk. High-risk groups include:
The treatment for glaucoma depends on the type, severity and progression of the disease. Typical treatments include prescription eye drops and laser surgery – all intended to lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye and prevent damage, or further damage, to the optic nerve. Sometimes a more advanced surgery is necessary to alleviate the fluid build-up in the eye. Traditional surgery, such as trabeculectomy, has been shown to be effective in lowering IOP, but is associated with a high level of risks and complications.