Characterized by a progressive destruction of the optic nerve, glaucoma is a disease that has no apparent symptoms during the first few years. How to recognize the warning signs ? What to do once the diagnosis is established ? What is the treatment of glaucoma ?
Glaucoma : definition and risk factors
Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by a dysfunction of the evacuation of the aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eye that builds up over time, and increases the pressure of the eye. This hypertension intraocular growing may cause damage to the optic nerve, and, without appropriate treatment, it can cause problems with the view at the person, or even a complete blindness in the most serious situations.
There is no single cause of glaucoma, but certain risk factors seem to favor it : the age (its frequency increases strongly beyond 40 years of age), heredity (the risk increases when a parent is reached), myopia, diabetes, high blood pressure. There is also an increased risk in seniors who have taken corticosteroids over a prolonged period of time.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma ?
The symptoms vary according to the different types of glaucoma.
– The most common is chronic open-angle glaucoma, which is characterized by the gradual closure of the exhaust filter of the aqueous humour, causing gradually increasing the pressure on the optic nerve. Painless and without obvious symptoms for many years, it is particularly difficult to detect.
– Glaucoma, chronic closed angle is due to anatomic abnormalities of the eye, which completely locks the evacuation of the aqueous humor. As the pressure increases quickly, the patient feels very fast symptoms : violent pain of the eye, a feeling he is going to ” explode “.
– Much more rare, secondary glaucoma is caused by an inflammation of the eye or a significant trauma (a shock to the eye).
The chronic open-angle glaucoma, which represents more than 90 % of cases, is usually diagnosed after an eye test for another reason (myopia, presbyopia). It happens that seniors do not realize that they are suffering because of the slow evolution of the disease. Because of this, it belongs to the loved ones recognize the signs : the person ceases to read, to be closer to the tv, has more difficulty recognising people, etc, Sometimes, glaucoma is even confused with depression or Alzheimer’s disease.
It is recommended to promptly consult an ophthalmologist in case of decreased vision (especially on the sides), and pain in the eyes.
What is the treatment for glaucoma ?
In regard to the treatment of glaucoma, there is not, alas, of medicine curative at the present time. The support is therefore limited to the stabilization of the disease, as well as to the improvement of the quality of life in spite of the alteration of the view. A follow-up to life is necessary.
In the first place, the ophthalmologist will prescribe the instillation of eye drops (eye drops) in the eyes, at regular times. It may include beta-blockers, prostaglandins or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors which have the purpose of reducing the production of aqueous humor, and to facilitate its evacuation. When the drops no longer work, the doctor may recommend a laser treatment, which will temporarily stop the progression of glaucoma.
In more severe cases, eye surgery is considered in order to create a new drainage path of the aqueous humor, which will have the effect of stopping permanently the progression of glaucoma, without allowing to recover the visual faculties lost.
Glaucoma is not the only eye disease that is manifested by a progressive loss of vision with age. This is also the case of the presbyopia , which is caused by aging of the crystalline lens, which is the same symptom that the cataract, as well as the AMD , the symptoms of which also affect the optic nerve.