Glaucoma is not a single disease rather a group of ophthalmic disorders which is characterized by a progressive optic neuropathy. Due to the illness in the optic nerve, characteristic optic disc changes and visual field defects occur. These fields are typically associated withed raised IOP (Intraocular pressure), which is the most significant risk factor for glaucoma.
Can Glaucoma be Stopped?
Currently there are no known ways to stop glaucoma from happening. The drug therapy and the surgical management are for cases where glaucoma has already occurred and in these cases too, the disease can only be controlled it cannot be cured completely. Through primordial prevention (ways to prevent the occurrence of risk factors for glaucoma in an individual) is the best way to delay the occurrence of the disease.
So before learning the prevention methods for these risk factors, one should have an idea about the risk factors for glaucoma.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Increased IOP – It also known as ocular hypertension. It is the most significant risk factor for any type of glaucoma. It is the pressure exerted by the intraocular fluids on the coating of the eyeball. The normal range is 10-21 mm of Hg. Mostly there may be increase in the rate of formation of aqueous humor, resistance in its drainage or even increased episcleral venous pressure are some of the reasons for increase in Intraocular pressure.
Patients suffering from refractive errors are also prone to rise in intraocular pressure. Like in the cases of myopic individuals who are at a greater risk than emmetropes.
Hereditary – People with family history of glaucoma are at an increased risk for getting the disease. POAG (Primary open angle glaucoma) has the greatest risk as more than 24 gene loci have been identified for transmission of these genes onto the next generation.
Age – While congenital glaucoma’s are confined to young age (infancy to 3 years) all other types of glaucoma are seen from 4th to 7th decade of life.
Sex – In both males and females between the ages of 20-40 years intraocular pressure tends to remain in the same range, but in later parts of life females are at a greater risk than males.
Cigarette Smoking – Although not a direct risk factor but it has been seen that Glaucoma’s prevalence is high among smokers than in non-smokers.
Hypertension – Increased Blood Pressure is a significant risk factor as in this case too prevalence of glaucoma is high.
Race – ACG (Angle Closure Glaucoma) is more common in people of East –Asia while in POAG is more commonly seen in black people than white.
Prolonged Use of Steroids – It is an important risk factor for secondary glaucoma’s and is not that frequently seen in other types.
Measures to Stop Glaucoma
Glaucoma does not have an actual preventive measure it can only be delayed by keeping a check on the risk factors.
The most important measure available to an individual is a visit to an ophthalmologist for regular eye check-ups. This is done in order to spot the disease at an early stage so that it can be managed properly. The American Academy of ophthalmology urges the people approaching 4th decade of life to get screened for glaucoma every 3-4 years. While patients from 40 -60 years of life should get checked every 1-2 years and 60+ patients to follow up to the ophthalmologist twice a year because the risk rises with increasing age. Patients in their mid –thirties and with family history of glaucoma should visit the doctor yearly.
Other methods for prevention of glaucoma include:-
Healthy Lifestyle – This includes proper diet so that nutrition is fulfilled. Exercising at least 30 minutes which may include fast walking or jogging will help.
Protection of Eyes – People working in chemical industries, petroleum industry and other workplaces where there is contact with hazardous substances should always wear protective eye gear.
People who have already been diagnosed should not leave the treatment when symptoms reside as there might be recurrence.
Glaucoma cannot be stopped, the disease has many risk factors like older age; a family history and prolonged usage of steroids are some of them. The disease can be treated medically or surgically.