What causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases of the optic nerve involving loss of retinal ganglion cells in a characteristic pattern of optic neuropathy. Although raised intraocular pressure is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma, there is no set threshold for intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma. One person may develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure, while another person may have high eye pressure for years and yet never develop damage. Untreated glaucoma leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve and resultant visual field loss, which can progress to blindness. Glaucoma has been nicknamed "sneak thief of sight" because the loss of visual field often occurs gradually over a long time and may only be recognised when it is already quite advanced. Once lost, this damaged visual field can never be recovered.
How common is Glaucoma?
Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma affects one in two hundred people aged fifty and younger, and one in ten over the age of eighty.
Is Glaucoma treatable?
Although intraocular pressure is only one major risk factors of glaucoma, lowering it via pharmaceuticals or surgery is currently the mainstay of glaucoma treatment. In Europe, Japan, and Canada laser treatment is often the first line of therapy. In the U.S., adoption of early laser has lagged, even though prospective, multi-centered, peer-reviewed studies, since the early '90s, have shown laser to be at least as effective as topical medications in controlling intraocular pressure and preserving visual field. Vascular flow and neurodegenerative theories of glaucomatous optic neuropathy have prompted studies on various therapeutic interventions including nutritional compounds some of which may be regarded by clinicians as safe for use now, others are on trial. Intraocular pressure can be lowered with medication, usually eye drops. There are several different classes of medications to treat glaucoma with several different medications in each class. Each of these medicines may have local and systemic side effects. Adherence to medication protocol can be confusing and expensive; if side effects occur, the patient must be willing either to tolerate these, or to communicate with the treating physician to improve the drug regimen. Initially, glaucoma drops may reasonably be started in either one or in both eyes. Poor compliance with medications and follow-up visits is a major reason for vision loss in glaucoma patients. Patient education and communication must be ongoing to sustain successful treatment plans for this lifelong disease with no early symptoms.
What is it like to see with a Glaucoma?
The images below give a very rough idea of what it is like to see with glaucoma.
|Normal Sight||Same image seen with glaucoma|
Suitable reading aids for people with Glaucoma
Some people's eye conditions may make the use of an electronic magnifier difficult. This is where our range of easy to use text to speech reading machines may be more suitable.
Acknowledgements: Wikipedia: Glaucoma