The 12th of March was the World Glaucoma Day; an illness that affects 3% of the population, which together with diabetes, is a prime cause of blindness.
People over 50 tend to suffer from it, according to the Spanish Glaucoma Society and it also tends to affect men more than women.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that result in damage to the optic nerve (or retina) and cause vision loss. The most common type is open-angle (wide angle, chronic simple) glaucomain which the drainage angle for fluid within the eye remains open, with less common types including closed-angle (narrow angle, acute congestive) glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over time and there is no pain
So, the main problem with glaucoma is that it gives no warning; when the first symptoms do appear, it is already too late. In the majority of cases there is a slow increase in ocular tension, something that the patient doesn’t notice but when the patient does notice a loss of vision, the damage is already to serious – once you’ve lost vision quality, it’s gone for good.
Screening for glaucoma is usually performed as part of a standard eye examination performed by optometrists and ophthalmologists. Testing for glaucoma includes measurements of the intraocular pressure using tonometryanterior chamber angle examination or gonioscopy as well as examination of the optic nerve to discern visible damage, changes in the cup-to-disc ratio, rim appearance and vascular change. A formal visual field test is performed. The retinal nerve fiber layer can be assessed with imaging techniques such as optical coherence tomography, scanning laser polarimetry or scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (Heidelberg retinal tomogram). Visual field loss is the most specific sign of the condition, though it occurs later in the course of the disease
Although intraocular pressure (IOP) is only one of the major risk factors for glaucomalowering it via various pharmaceuticals and/or surgical techniques is currently the mainstay of glaucoma treatment. Intraocular pressure can be lowered with medication, usually eye drops. Several classes of medications are used to treat glaucomawith several medications in each class. By reducing pressure, eye drops also help to lower the risk of sight loss. Latanoprostfor example, seems to halve this risk
In conclusion, there is much on a prevention level that you can carry out beyond obtaining an early diagnosis therefore testing at least once a year.