GLAUCOMA – is an ocular disease characterised by increased intraocular pressure, reduced vision field, ocular nerve atrophy and reduced vision sharpness. This disease is more common among the elderly, however it can be congenital and develop in young individuals as a result of other ocular or generalized diseases. Hereditary factors are significant for glaucoma development.
The intraocular pressure of healthy eye can be -10-20 mmHg although it can vary in different people. Normal intraocular pressure is ensured by the balance between the production of ocular fluids and their elimination, this maintains normal function of the eye ocular structure and nutrition. Glaucoma develops as a result of increased ocular structure. Prolonged ocular pressure damages ocular nervous fibres and the ocular nerve, resulting in a narrowed vision field and reduced vision sharpness. Glaucoma-related alterations are irreversible. There are several types of glaucoma – open angle glaucoma, closed angle glaucoma, normal intraocular pressure and secondary glaucoma, – caused by other ocular conditions etc. The course of the disease varies. The disease usually progresses slowly, thus people do not experience any early symptoms and do not seek medical advice. Sometimes there is a feeling of blunt pain or the feeling of a foreign body in the eye, the eyes water, fatigue develops, vision eclipse may develop and resolve, a halo can occur around a light source, and finally dilation of the eye blood vessels can occur. Uncontrolled intraocular blood pressure over a long time produces pressure on the ocular nerve and results in the atrophy of nerve cells, narrowed field of vision and reduced vision. Delayed diagnosis and delayed initiation of treatment results in the progression of glaucoma to blindness.
In rare cases this disease develops suddenly – there is an acute glaucoma attack. It is characterized by severe eye pain, which involves the whole face as well as headache, fever and sever worsening of vision. The changes caused by the disease are irreversible; it is only possible to stop the progression of the disease. Glaucoma treatment is lifelong. It is treated using eye drops which reduce the intraocular pressure and improve the out flow of intraocular fluid as well as retinal blood flow. Combinations of several medicines are used. If medical treatment is insufficient, laser or surgical treatment is required. A window is created during the surgery, which is used to eliminate the excess of intraocular fluid and to reduce pressure on the ocular nerve.
As this disease is usually not associated with pain and vision remains sufficient for a long time, glaucoma is usually diagnosed accidentally by prophylactic measurement of intraocular pressure. Once you reach 40 years of age you should have annual check-ups of intraocular eye pressure, and if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have check-ups from the age of 30-35 years old. Intraocular pressure should also be checked in patients with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, after ocular trauma and surgeries.
Timely initiation of treatment can slow down the disease and prevent the development of blindness.