Glaucoma without proper treatment can lead to blindness

Glaucoma is a chronic disease of the optic nerve that, without proper treatment, can progress insidiously and lead to blindness. It usually occurs when intraocular pressure is higher than the eye can withstand, resulting in reduced side vision. This symptom may go unnoticed, and when this happens, the patient does not usually recognize the disease until it is at a very advanced stage.

Types of glaucoma

There are two types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma, which is asymptomatic and the most frequent; or narrow-angle or closed-angle glaucoma. In the case of an abrupt closure, it causes a rise in pressure with intense pain, loss of vision and even nausea and vomiting. The patient should undergo urgent treatment if he/she manifests these symptoms.

When does glaucoma appear?

Glaucoma, as well as its main symptoms, generally appears in people over 40 years of age and with elevated intraocular pressure, although it can also appear with normal pressures in sensitive eyes. The risk factors for glaucoma are many and varied, although the most common are ocular hypertension or myopia.

Surgery does not restore lost vision

While it is true that surgery lowers intraocular pressure to stop optic nerve damage, it does not allow the patient to recover the vision that glaucoma has caused him to lose. When the first symptoms appear and the disease manifests itself in a mild phase, the most frequent treatment is by means of hypotensive eye drops. On the other hand, if the disease is more severe, the patient must undergo surgical procedures such as laser, trabeculectomy or sclerectomy.

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Despite the discouraging data, with early diagnostic measures and hypotensive treatment, the incidence of blindness has practically halved in the last 30 years. For this reason, regular medical follow-up is necessary throughout life.