Frequently asked questions about glaucoma – Part 1
Today I want to introduce you to some frequently asked question about Glaucoma because it is an important eye disease, which can cause a gradual loss of vision. If picked up early, it can be treated by Consultant Ophthalmologist Laura Crawley, and very useful vision can be kept.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that has many causes. High intraocular pressure (eye pressure) is the most common risk factor. The optic nerve is affected by glaucoma.
Having high eye pressure isn’t essential. If there is normal eye pressure, it is called normal-tension glaucoma. High eye pressure is probably the most important risk factor. Other risk factors exist such as vascular, where small blood vessels to the optic nerve are affected.
There are patients with high eye pressure without glaucoma. This is called ocular hypertension. With this, we don’t encounter any damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting the visual information captured by the retinal receptors, to the visual centre in the occipital cortex. The occipital cortex is where the image is interpreted. When optic nerve fibres are lost through glaucoma, the brain cannot see the image picked up by the retina.
The retinal and optic nerve cells are exquisitely sensitive to eye pressure changes. The eye is essentially a closed structure. Thus so, a moderate increase in eye pressure will have a direct effect on the nerve fibres inside of the eye. There is a balance between the production of the nutritive fluid inside the eye and its drainage. Hence, any imbalance between these two modalities, usually causes increased eye pressure. This is most often from a malfunction in the drainage area of the eye called the trabecular meshwork.
Glaucoma is treatable by reducing the production of aqueous humour and increasing its drainage. This can be done using drug treatment such as drops or tablets. Laser treatment and surgery is another option.
In Frequently asked questions about glaucoma – part two, I will describe the treatment options for glaucoma.