Glaucoma affects one million people in Spain and it is the one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Even though the disease is incurable, it is true that 90% of blindness cases caused by glaucoma could be avoided by means of early detection and an appropriate treatment.
The risk of developing glaucoma increases with age. It is rare before the age of 40 and from this age is recommended to control it in order to rule out the disease.
People with high intraocular pressure, family history of glaucoma and short-sightedness are at a higher risk to suffer from glaucoma. In all these cases it is recommended to have regular eye examinations done in order to control the possible onset of the disease.
Is it possible to prevent blindness caused by glaucoma?
It actually is. Glaucoma is a preventable cause of blindness. If diagnosed early, there are, in most cases, effective measures to prevent its consequences. These measures include medical treatments with pressure-lowering eye drops, the use of laser, and surgical treatment. The prognosis and response to the treatments are better the earlier the disease is diagnosed.
Is the patient aware that he suffers from glaucoma?
No. Most glaucoma cases chronic, and they show no symptoms. In order to early diagnose glaucoma, it is necessary to conduct an eye examination.
Ophthalmological examinations aimed to detect glaucoma include several relatively straightforward check-ups that do not cause pain, such as:
- Measurement of eye pressure
- Examination of the fundus of the eye. If deemed appropriate by the ophthalmologist, other tests such as OCT, HRT, or GDX can be performed. For the purpose of these tests, it may be necessary to dilate the pupil.
- Assessment of visual field. It is a basic test in the diagnosis of glaucoma and it helps us to provide tailored treatments according to each patient needs.
Is it possible to treat glaucoma?
Yes, it can be treated with medicines, eye drops to reduce eye pressure, laser, or surgery. Each case may require one or more of these treatments throughout life. It is very important that the patient strictly follows the doctor advices in order for the treatment to be effective. None of the treatments permanently cures the disease, but it is possible to control it in most of the cases and prevent loss of vision.