WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?

WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?

The eye must have a certain degree of pressure to keep its normal working order which is regulated by a liquid (aqueous humour) that is produced and drained at equal rate. When, for very different reasons, more liquid than it should is produced or it is drained in smaller amount than appropriate, the eye tension may increase and affect the optic nerve. When this happens, we are in front of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the retinal nerve fibre layer causing a damage to the optic nerve (optic neuropathy) that leads the patient to a visual field defect.
The most important risk factor for suffering from glaucoma is the intraocular pressure increase. Nonetheless, it is very important to know that having a high ocular pressure doesn’t automatically mean having glaucoma or, in other words, not all eyes react equally in front of an ocular tension rising. Another fact that must be clarified is that having a high blood pressure hasn’t necessarily anything to do with an increase of the intraocular pressure.

Aspecto de un nervio de un paciente con glaucoma

Optic nerve’s head in a person with glaucoma.

HOW IS GLAUCOMA DIAGNOSED?

The ocular tension measurement (tonometry) is compulsory for everybody over the age of 40 and, if there exists prior family history of glaucoma, even earlier, for this disease is hereditary in a high percentage.
Faced with the suspicion of a glaucoma case, the eye’s tension must be examined (tonometry) as well as the optic nerve’s aspect in the eye fundus and a campimetry test or OCT has to be carried out.

Medida de la tensión ocular.

CAN GLAUCOMA BE TREATED?

Nowadays there exists a wide range of treatments to stop glaucoma’s progress. It is very important to bear in mind that if there has been a loss of nervous cells, these can’t regenerate. That’s why the treatment of glaucoma is useless to improve the patient’s visual field. It only helps keeping it and avoiding a further loss. The different therapeutic methods to treat glaucoma are applied according to the pressure rising, the visual field defect and the progression capacity of this pathology. The available treatments are:
· topical treatment (eye drops)
· laser trabeculoplasty
· filtration surgery (trabeculectomy or non-penetrating deep sclerectomy)
· drainage devices
· cyclophotocoagulation