What is glaucoma and why is it produced?
Glaucoma is a set of diseases that are characterized by producing damage to the optic nerve, this is a very specific damage that is going to translate into a loss of visual field. To explain it in another way the optic nerve would be the cable that connects the eye with the brain and transmits all the information we see, glaucoma will produce a defect by which the visual field is going to contract, we will lose the periphery of the visual field until we only have the central part of it. This damage is very specific and can be diagnosed with a series of tests that we will later discuss. Glaucoma does not have a single cause, there are several risk factors and the most important is intraocular pressure although there are other factors such as vascular factors, family history and some anatomical features of the eye. Of the factors that we can modulate in some way is intraocular pressure, this is the factor to which we give more importance.
How is it manifested and how can it be prevented?
As we have discussed there are different types of glaucoma. The best known is open-angle glaucoma, in which there is silent damage in which we lose the visual field from the periphery to the center, which is why it is called the silent thief, we do not realize it at the beginning, because this loss is very slow, until final phases when the visual field is so small that we realize that we have an inability to move well. When that happens and you go to the ophthalmologist the damage is done and it is difficult to treat it, normally we can not recover this vision that we have lost.
There is another type of glaucoma that is angle-closure glaucoma that produces a very sudden rise in tension with pain, loss of vision and we realize immediately and go to the ophthalmologist but these are the most infrequent cases. The really important thing and the real health problem is with open-angle glaucoma. For a good prevention what you have to do is go to the ophthalmologist, you should routinely go in the different decades of life, from the age of 40 a series of changes occur, including the increase in the incidence of glaucoma. Of course go if there has been any previous trauma or if there has been a family history to make these revisions.
What is your treatment?
For different types of glaucoma, which also have different stages of evolution, we have different treatments. The most common are eye drops that are droplets that are put in the eye whose purpose is to lower intra-ocular pressure and practically the majority of patients are controlled with these drops. Lasers can also be used for the treatment of glaucoma, especially for some types such as the one we have discussed at an angle. And then there are the surgical techniques, the classic techniques that are very effective for various types of glaucoma and we are currently moving towards minimally invasive techniques, techniques in which we use small, biocompatible devices that located in the eye what they are going to do is to facilitate the exit of the aqueous humor to lower the tension of the eye, minimizing the damage we do to its structures and minimizing the patient's discomfort. They are very easy techniques, practically all ambulatory and that will allow us to control glaucomas that a priori are difficult to control in a relatively simple way.