What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma encompasses a group of ocular diseases that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve. With age, incidence increases and the visual field is reduced. If not treated early, vision can be lost completely.
Glaucoma sufferers are four times more likely to fall over than people with healthy vision.
What causes it?
In order for vision to be good, it is necessary for the optic nerve (which joins the eye to the brain) to be healthy.
Glaucoma causes an increased loss of nerve fibres, and the nerve appears to hollow out. When no nerve fibres remain, the patient loses vision completely.
This process generally occurs when the patient’s aqueous humour (a clear fluid that bathes the eye’s ocular structures and maintains their optical properties) has difficulty draining from the space in which it is contained. The result is an increase in intraocular pressure and optic nerve damage.
There is also a type of glaucoma, in which damage to the optic nerve occurs with normal eye pressure. Glaucoma can also be associated with other factors, such as low blood pressure and other vascular diseases.
The optic nerve of a healthy patient.
The optic nerve of a patient with glaucoma.
High intraocular pressure increases the risk of developing glaucoma. In most cases, patients are not aware that they are suffering from glaucoma until much of their visual field has been lost.
How can it be prevented?
After the age of 40, it is important to undergo a complete eye examination every one or two years. If eye pressure can be reduced in the early stages of glaucoma, the development of the disease can be stopped and vision can be protected.
Half of patients with glaucoma are unaware of it, as there are usually no obvious symptoms, such as pain or sudden loss of vision. Symptoms such as reddening of the eye and severe pain, accompanied by nausea, vomiting and blurred vision, only occur in cases of an acute glaucoma attack.
In most cases, patients are not aware that they are suffering from glaucoma until much of the visual field has been lost.
- What is the visual field?
- What is the width of our visual field?
- What symptoms can a patient present after undergoing YAG laser treatment?
- Why does eye pressure increase?
- Is glaucoma often present in both eyes or just one?
- How much does genetic inheritance have a bearing on glaucoma?
- What is the vision of a person with glaucoma like?
- What tests are used to diagnose glaucoma?