Glaucoma describes several eye conditions. What they all have in common is that they damage the nerve cells and retina and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. The damage to nerve cells often occurs slowly and is hardly noticeable. It is therefore important from the age of 45 to have regular eye check-ups with a specialist.
What are the causes of glaucoma?
Increased intraocular pressure is often the cause of glaucoma. In the elderly, chronic glaucoma is also common – in this case, the outflow of aqueous humour is reduced. In addition to genetic risk factors, certain general conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, as well as anatomical peculiarities of the eye, also increase the risk of glaucoma.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Regular glaucoma screenings are mandatory from the age of 45. Because: even if symptoms such as restrictions in the visual field, ‘halos’ around light sources or other visual impairments are only just apparent, the damage to the retina and optic nerve is already well established.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Every two years during screening, intraocular pressure, the iridocorneal angle and the optic nerve will be closely examined and measured.
How is glaucoma treated?
Unlike other eye conditions such as cataracts, the treatment of glaucoma focuses not on a cure, but rather the management of disease progression. In glaucoma, this means the reduction of intraocular pressure in order to prevent impairment of the optic nerve, as well as deficiencies in the visual field. Depending on the severity and progression of the condition, different treatments are recommended.
When cases of glaucoma are detected early, intraocular pressure can be effectively reduced with eye drops before any further damage occurs. If glaucoma is already advanced and eye drops are no longer sufficiently effective, a laser-based or surgical intervention is advisable.
Treatment with medication
Eye drops are often used to reduce the pressure in the eye, which achieves the desired effect in most patients.
If the eye drops are no longer sufficiently effective, there is the possibility of opening the drainage routes of the eye via targeted lasering, thus reducing pressure in the eye. In severe cases, the tissue producing the pressure in the eye is treated in a targeted manner with a special laser and the pressure is regulated.
As a third option, glaucoma can be treated surgically. There are various surgical techniques available through which the outflow of aqueous humour can be improved. The surgical method most appropriate for you will be explained in more detail by your ophthalmologist.
Do you have symptoms of glaucoma?