World Glaucoma Day is celebrated on March 12th and it marks the start of World Glaucoma Week, a collaborative project between World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association. The aim of the project is to help eliminate blindness caused by this disease by raising awareness and alerting on the need of having regular eye check-ups in which the optic nerve is examined.
Under the motto Beat Invisible Glaucoma, the project mobilizes several groups of people, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, healthcare workers, universities, medical centres, private practices and individual citizens, especially those suffering from the disease or their relatives, along with glaucoma societies and associations of patients affected by the disease.
On March 12th we celebrate World Glaucoma Day. What exactly is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease. More specifically, it is a disease that affects the optic nerve initially causing a loss of peripheral vision (in the visual field) in patients If it is not detected early on and properly treated, it may progress towards a more serious vision loss and affect central vision.
In Spain, one million people suffer from glaucoma. But, who is at a higher risk of suffering from this disease?
One of the main risk factors for glaucoma is high eye pressure. The disease incidence also increases with age. Therefore, it is more frequent among people older than 40, and especially among seniors over 60 years old.
People with direct relatives (father, mother, siblings) having suffered from glaucoma, as well as people with high myopia (over 6 diopters) or people with a medical history of eye traumas are also at a higher risk of having the disease.
Are there different types of glaucoma? What are their causes?
The two most important types of glaucoma are the following:
- Narrow-angle glaucoma or acute angle-closure glaucoma is produced when the iris obstructs the outflow of aqueous humor, which causes a substantial increase in eye pressure, pain, blurred vision and eye redness.
- Chronic or open-angle glaucoma is when eye pressure is high, but no symptoms are evident in the beginning. This is the reason why it usually isn’t diagnosed until it starts affecting vision.
Can glaucoma lead to blindness? Can this be prevented?
El glaucoma es la primera causa de ceguera irreversible a nivel mundial. Además, por cada caso que está diagnosticado y controlado, hay una persona que camina por la calle y que no sabe que tiene glaucoma. Se calcula que aproximadamente un 50 % de los casos de glaucoma no están diagnosticados.
Does it have a treatment? Can it be cured?
In order to treat glaucoma, different therapeutic steps can be taken to help prevent the disease progression.
Treatment usually begins with eye drops aiming to reduce eye pressure. When this isn’t enough, laser procedures may also be used and, lastly, we have different surgical treatments available, depending on the needs of each individual case.
Is there any way to prevent glaucoma?
The main problem with open-angle glaucoma is that it is a chronic disease that shows no symptoms in early stages. Therefore, the only way to detect it is to have regular eye check-ups starting at the age of 40 to 45. This is especially true for people who have direct relatives who suffer from the disease or for people with high myopia.