World Glaucoma Week was established in 2010 by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) to raise awareness of the consequences of reduced vision as a result of glaucoma and its impact on patients’ daily lives.
Glaucoma is a frequent cause of eye morbidity since, after cataract, it is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. The incidence of glaucoma in Greece is estimated at approximately 2% of the population, a percentage that increases in older people. An important fact is that a large part of patients do not know that they suffer from glaucoma.
On the occasion of this year’s World Glaucoma Week (March 12-18), Mr Konstantinos PapadopoulosMD, FEBO Ophthalmologist of Metropolitan General informs about the risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of this “insidious” enemy of vision:
“Glaucoma includes a group of eye diseases characterized by a specific type of damage to the optic nerve, while in the majority of cases there is an increased intraocular pressure. Typical glaucomatous damage is characterized by loss of peripheral vision. Combined with the slow progression of the disease, as well as the absence of pain, the patient does not have easily perceptible symptoms, except in advanced stages of the disease, which makes the need for preventive examinations imperative, especially in high-risk individuals. There are several types of glaucoma that affect all ages, including congenital glaucoma (congenital glaucoma), with the most common being chronic simple open-angle glaucoma. Although glaucomatous damage is irreversible, appropriate treatment can prevent further worsening of glaucoma.”
“Although increased intraocular pressure was considered by the general public to be synonymous with the term glaucoma, the reality is that intraocular pressure is one of the most important and easily measurable risk factors for the appearance of glaucomatous lesions. It would be good to remember, however, that glaucoma can also occur in people with normal intraocular pressure, while a person with increased intraocular pressure does not necessarily have glaucoma, but ocular hypertension” points out Mr. Papadopoulos and adds:
“Other risk factors are family history of glaucoma, age, cortisone medication, nearsightedness, history of eye injury, and thin cornea.”
The best way to diagnose glaucoma early is a regular eye exam. People over the age of 40 should be screened no later than every two years, while those with a risk factor should be screened annually. The eye examination for the diagnosis of glaucoma includes:
- Measurement of intraocular pressure
- Endoscopy and examination of the optic nerve
- Visual field examination to detect early peripheral changes characteristic of glaucoma
- Examination of the optic papilla with HRT for the presence of glaucomatous lesions
- Examination of optic nerve fibers with OCT
“The damage caused to the optic nerve by glaucoma is not corrected. But with the right treatment we can prevent them before they become established. Glaucoma treatment aims to protect the optic nerve by improving its blood supply and reducing intraocular pressure,” emphasizes Mr. Papadopoulos.
- Pharmaceutical treatment: The administration of antiglaucoma eye drops is the first step in the treatment of glaucoma. They are administered daily one or more times.
- LASER treatment: In recent years, laser treatment has gained more and more ground in the treatment of glaucoma, and its performance varies according to the type of glaucoma.
- Surgical treatment: When drug therapy or LASER therapy cannot control glaucoma, surgery is the next step and can provide long-term beneficial results in the treatment of glaucoma.
“Information and awareness of the public about glaucoma and regular eye examination are the best prevention of glaucoma, a serious and silent condition that without treatment can lead to blindness,” concludes the expert.
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