Is Glaucoma Cancer?

No, glaucoma is not cancer as it is not related to the proliferation of cell mass. Cancer is a purposeless proliferation of cells which can be benign or malignant whereas glaucoma’s main etiology is increased in intraocular pressure which damages the optic nerve and thus leads to blindness.

When the intraocular pressure is more than 21 mm Hg then there are chances of optic nerve degeneration which leads to sudden painless loss of vision.

There is no proliferation of cells in glaucoma but it is related to increased production of aqueous humor by the ciliary body epithelial cells. When there is an imbalance in production and drainage of aqueous humor there is an increase in the pressure on the eyeball. The main cause of decreased drainage of aqueous humor is fibrosis of trabecular meshwork which increases the intraocular pressure.

There can be increased production of aqueous humor by the ciliary body that is why the major target of maximum drugs is beta cells present in the epithelium of ciliary body. Thus beta blockers are among the most common drugs that are used for glaucoma as they are targeted against beta cells. Apart from beta blocker, the alpha agonist is even used which causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels present in the ciliary body thus decreasing the production of aqueous humor.

Is Glaucoma Cancer?

Is Glaucoma Cancer?

Glaucoma is not a tumor, but it is associated with a number of other tumors, which are responsible for increasing the intraocular pressure. If there is any a tumor in the eyeball which applies pressure on the iris can cause glaucoma. Like in case of retinoblastoma where there can be endogenous proliferation it can progress to that extent where there is increased pressure on iris from behind. As pressure advances, iris bombe is formed, which pushed forward to block the trabecular meshwork thus precipitating glaucoma. Apart from tumors at times lens matter which is released during the inflammatory process can even block the trabecular meshwork thus increasing the pressure.

So in short glaucoma itself is not a tumor, but it can be associated with a tumor. So there are various tumors of the eyeball which can precipitate glaucoma.

Glaucoma can be of two types of open angle or angle closure. Open-angle glaucoma usually occurs when there is trabecular fibrosis or blockage of trabeculae by any particles like lens protein or inflammatory cells. Whereas angle-closure glaucoma occurs due to adhesion of the iris to the lens which usually takes place when there is mid-dilated state of the pupil. When adhesion occurs there is an increase in intraocular pressure on posterior compartment which leads to the formation of iris bombe. Once iris bombe is formed it, mover, forward and blocks the trabeculae.

If one sees the coin from another side at times open-angle glaucoma may appear like a tumor as it also blocks the trabecular meshwork, but indeed it is not because for calling something tumor it should be associated with the proliferation of cells. Few people initially use to think that there is hyperplasia of ciliary epithelium cells of the ciliary body but this hypothesis is rejected as there is no hyperplasia or hypertrophy rather there is hyperactivity of ciliary epithelium cells of the ciliary body. So initially it was considered as glaucoma because of this consideration, but as it is proved now so no literature considers it as a tumor. So it would be wise saying that it is not a tumor itself, but is precipitated by the number of eyeball tumors, which increases the pressure of eyeball.

No matter what causes glaucoma initial step of management is a reduction of pressure which is done by giving acetazolamide, beta blockers, an alpha agonist, and prostaglandin analogues. Plus the treatment of a tumor in case of glaucoma associated with a tumor is a must.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2021

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