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Glaucoma

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Generality/Definition
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    Glaucoma is the name for a group of diseases that can destroy the optic nerve, the main nerve of the eye. The word glaucoma means hard eyeball. Any one of the conditions classified as glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness by damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma sneaks up on people. Even though glaucoma cannot be cured, it can be treated. If it is spotted in its early stages, before any sight is lost, blindness can almost always be prevented. But the longer glaucoma remains untreated, the more vision can be lost.
    Source: Provisu look What Is Glaucoma? (ehealthmd.com)
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Epidemiology

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    The number of persons estimated to be blind as a result of primary glaucoma is 4.5 million, accounting for slightly more than twelve per cent of all global blindness. The primary risk factors that are linked to the individual and the onset of the disease are age and genetic predisposition. The incidence of POAG rises with age and its progression is more frequent in people of African origin. ACG is the common form of glaucoma in people of Asian origin.
    Source: Provisu look WHO | VISION 2020 priority eye diseases (who.int)
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Prevention

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    There is little known about primary prevention of glaucoma; however, there are effective methods of medical and surgical treatment if the disease is diagnosed in its early stage. Through appropriate treatment, sight may be maintained; otherwise the progression of the condition leads eventually to severe restriction of the visual field and irreversible blindness.
    Source: Provisu look WHO | VISION 2020 priority eye diseases (who.int)
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Symptoms

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    - Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, has no symptoms at first. The pressure in the eye builds up gradually. At some point, side vision (peripheral vision) is lost and without treatment, total blindness will occur.
    - Acute closed-angle glaucoma results when the normal flow of eye fluid (aqueous humor) between the iris and the lens becomes suddenly blocked. Symptoms may include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and seeing a rainbow halo around lights. Acute closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately or blindness could result in one or two days.
    - Chronic closed-angle glaucoma progresses more slowly and can produce damage without symptoms, similar to open-angle glaucoma.
    Source: Provisu look Glaucoma (ahaf.org)

Treatment

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    A number of medications are currently in use to treat glaucoma. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of medications or change your prescription over time to reduce side-effects or provide a more effective treatment. Typically medications are intended to reduce elevated intraocular pressure and prevent damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma medications: Adrenergic, Alpha Agonist Beta Blockers, Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors, Cholinergic (Miotic), Cholinesterase Inhibitor, Combined Prostaglandin Analogs.
    Source: Provisu look Glaucoma (glaucoma.org)
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Illustrations

Source: Provisu look What Causes Glaucoma? (ehealthmd.com)


In a normal eye, aqueous humor is produced, circulates through the eye, and then drains out through the trabecular meshwork, which is the eye's filtration system. This is a series of tiny channels near the angle formed by the cornea (the clear portion of the eye), the iris (the colored portion of the eye), and the sclera (the white of the eye). If there is any sort of blockage in these channels, pressure builds up inside the eyeball.

Information for specialists

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    Doctors often recommend laser surgery before filtering microsurgery, unless the eye pressure is very high or the optic nerve is badly damaged. During laser surgery, a tiny but powerful beam of light is used to make several small scars in the eye's trabecular meshwork (the eye's drainage system). The scars help increase the flow of fluid out of the eye.
    In contrast, filtering microsurgery involves creating a drainage hole with the use of a small surgical tool. When laser surgery does not successfully lower eye pressure, or the pressure begins to rise again, the doctor may recommend filtering microsurgery.
    Source: Provisu look Glaucoma Surgery (glaucoma.org)

Scientific articles: All recent articles for "Glaucoma"

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Last modified: Jan 2014
Creation: Jan 2006