Glaucoma is one of the most common eye diseases, striking 1 in 200 people below 50. It is much more common among the elderly – almost 10% of all people above 80 suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a very dangerous disease as it can lead to loss of eye sight if left untreated. Further, detection of this eye disease is quite difficult as the symptoms manifest themselves only in more advanced stages.
In glaucoma, the optic nerve gets damaged, typically due to increased pressure of aqueous humor, the fluid present in the eye. Damage to the optic nerve may be minor, but over time, it may lead to complete blindness.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma can be effectively classified into two types: Open-Angle, and Closed-Angle.
The former is more common, and also harder to detect. In ope-angle glaucoma, the patient suffers gradual loss of eyesight leading to complete blindness if left untreated. The field of vision gradually decreases and there are changes in the optic nerve. Because of the absence of perceptible changes in the early stages, it becomes difficult to detect. More than 90% of all glaucoma cases in the United States are open-angle, though this figure is much smaller in Asian and European countries.
Closed-angle glaucoma is rarer. Its symptoms are also much more acute, and include pain in the eyes, seeing spots, halos or lights, extremely red eyes, and nausea. Vision loss may be very sudden and extremely painful. Closed-angle glaucoma needs to be treated immediately as it can very quickly lead to complete blindness. It affects less than 10% of people in the United States.
Causes of Glaucoma
The primary cause of this eye disease, as outlined above, is increase in the pressure on the ocular nerve from the fluid present in the eyes (aqueous humor). This increase in the pressure itself is influenced by genetics. For instance, East Asians are more likely to suffer from closed-angle glaucoma than open-angle, whereas those with an African descent are thrice as likely to suffer from open-angle glaucoma than their caucasian counterparts.
Other causes of glaucoma are diabetes, variations in blood pressure, hypertension, and trauma. This eye disease is also related to age and is much more prevalent among the elderly. This is because of genetics, as well as increased health issues among the elderly such as hypertension, diabetes, etc.
Cures of Glaucoma
There is no permanent cure for glaucoma as of now, and all the cures can only provide temporary relief. In early stages, glaucoma can be corrected by taking external medication such as eye drops. These eye drops help to reduce the pressure in the eyes.
In later stages, surgery may be effective in providing temporary relief. Surgery may be carried out through conventional methods, or through laser. In most cases, such operations don’t provide long lasting cures.
Glaucoma is a difficult disease to cure because of its genetic origins. However, one can prevent its occurrence by taking good care of the health, especially against diseases like diabetes and hypertension which have a role to play in this eye disease.