Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness all over the world just after cataracts and it is the leading cause of blindness in Africa. 1 in 200 people of the age 50 or less is a sufferer of glaucoma. And amount of sufferers increase with the increase of age. 1 in 10 is affected with glaucoma over the age of 80.
Glaucoma is a disorder of eye due to the damage of optic nerve in a characteristic manner. It causes a permanent damage to the eye and can lead to complete blindness if it is not timely treated since untreated optic nerve can be permanently damaged. It is caused due to an increase in liquid pressure in aqueous humors. Increase in liquid pressure is considered as the most important and the only controllable factor for glaucoma. Effectiveness of this only factor also varies person to person. Some may have a high level of liquid pressure over the years but they never develop glaucoma; some may have a relatively low pressure but their optic never damages and they develop glaucoma.
Retinal ganglion cells are present in the optic nerve in a characteristic pattern. The damage to optic nerve causes the function of retinal ganglion cells damaged. Retinal ganglion cells communicate with brain for all objects eye sees and detect them. Their failure results in failure of communication of eye messages and brain. Thus the result is vision failure.
There are two main categories of glaucoma, one is open angle and the other is closed angle (also known as angle closure). The angle here is the area between cornea and the iris. Liquid flows between iris and cornea to get out through the trabecular meshwork. Angle closure appears suddenly; it causes sudden pain in the eye and can rapidly decrease the vision. But the pain leads the patient to consult medical man for the treatment and hence glaucoma is diagnosed before a permanent damage occurs to the eye. Open angle glaucoma is very chronic. It flourishes with slow speed but it often stayed undiagnosed and thus before the patient become aware of his disorder the permanent damage occurs to eye. This is why glaucoma is also called as “silent theif of sight”.
There are many types of open angel glaucoma for instance Primary chronic open-angle, glaucoma (COAG) Normal tension (pressure) glaucoma or low tension glaucoma, Congenital (infantile) glaucoma, Secondary open-angle glaucoma, Pigmentary glaucoma, Exfoliative glaucoma .
Glaucoma is usually treated with Laser surgery (also know as laser trabeculoplasty). It is also treated with conventional surgery. But the vision never returns to its normal precision.
Glaucoma cannot be easily treated so the prevention is better in this case. People are at risk to develop or already have the disease over the age of 60 and Africans (generally blacks) over the age of 40. Such risky people should have examination of their eyes on regular basis and the one’s who already have developed the disorder should take their medicine regularly to avoid full blindness.