Glaucoma blindness: 90% could be prevented with annual check-ups

Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease. It is an alteration in the optic nerve, with origin in an elevated pressure. If left uncontrolled, glaucoma leads to blindness, and is considered the second leading cause of blindness in Spain. However, early diagnosis prevents vision loss in nine out of ten cases. Today, more than one million people over the age of 40 suffer from glaucoma in Spain. However, many of them do not know it, since glaucoma, also known as the “silent disease”, is a pathology that shows no symptoms as long as the optic nerve is affected. The loss of vision is gradual and irreversible, reaching blindness if it is not detected and treated.

Normally, most patients are not aware that they have the disease until vision loss is significant, so it is very important to undergo regular checkups. From the age of 40 onwards, an annual check-up with the ophthalmologist is recommended to rule out or diagnose this disease in time.

In the eye checkup to prevent glaucoma, the eye pressure, the patient’s visual field and the thickness of the optic nerve fibers are checked. These three are the main aspects used to diagnose glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma like?

The signs of glaucoma are a progressive visual field reduction, which is due to intraocular pressure. Its cause is not clear, but it is believed that the genetic condition and other secondary factors, such as significant myopia, may favor its appearance. However, it is a complicated disease to diagnose, so a quick diagnosis is the main trump card to prevent its progression, since it is irreversible.

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How is glaucoma treated?

To detect glaucoma, tonometry is used to check intraocular pressure. This is a very quick and painless test, which rules out patients susceptible to glaucomatous damage. If ocular hypertension is detected, other diagnostic tests will be performed to indicate the status of the disease, and thereafter a treatment will be specified to drain the progression of the disease on a case-by-case basis.

As such, the goal of glaucoma treatment is to preserve vision. Elevated intraocular pressure can be treated with drugs, laser or surgery. Today there are minimally invasive procedures that provide valuable opportunities for intraocular pressure control. On the other hand, non-perforating deep sclerotomy and the XEN implant have shown very positive results in controlling tension with minimal risks.

For more information, consult a glaucoma ophthalmologist.