Glaucoma is a most common cause of blindness, generally happens in individuals above 40 years old because of impairment in the optic nerves. It is the second most common cause of blindness next to cataract and the main reason for eye disability in the western countries. There are 8% cases of glaucoma blindness accounted among the 39 million people who are blind worldwide. It is predicted that it may reach to 11.1 million glaucoma blindness cases in the year 2020. It is preventable and treatment is positive in the initial phase. But, it is irreversible in the advanced phase condition because of extreme damages in the pathognomonic optic nerve, which may cause progressive visual loss.
What Are The Main Causes Of Glaucoma?
The back part of the eyes is filled with aqueous humor. This fluid flows out of the eyes through the mesh-like channel. If the channel gets blocked, the liquid accumulates and cause a pressure increase, which is different from normal pressure. This abnormal increase in intraocular ocular pressure is the main cause of glaucoma. As the pressure increase, the bundle of optic nerves gets damaged which consequently cause loss of vision. Because of nerve damage and high pressure inside eyes, it changes several functions of eyes including scleral anatomy and physiology, retinal ganglion cell, axial myopia, corneal hysteresis, and corneal thickness. Several changes cause the blindness to irreversible form.
Age, ethnicity, certain medications, certain eyes diseases, and family history of blindness are some of the risk factors for the cause of glaucoma.
People who are 40 and above, usually loss of vision occurs. Increasing in age is the only reason connected with the development of the disease. They are more susceptible to this glaucoma condition; particularly African-American people are more affected. It begins at the age of 40 and progress slowly to complete blindness. Caucasians, people of Asia, particularly Japanese are a high risk of developing glaucoma. Certain eye disease like bacterial or viral conjunctivitis also may lead to glaucoma. Chronic eye diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, any trauma, drugs like corticosteroids, and size of the thickness of corneas may cause an increase in intraocular pressure leading to glaucoma blindness. Risk of glaucoma in individuals is high if their parents or grandparents are victims of glaucoma.
Generally, the gender is not associated with the glaucoma complaint. But many studies say that open-angle form is highly prevalent in the men who are above 40 years old. Men are more susceptible to secondary glaucoma after trauma and women are more common to closed-angle form.
The Africa lineage region also has the highest frequency rate and prevalence of glaucoma in the world. Blindness occurred at an earlier age in black’s race when compared to whites people. The black populations are more susceptible to glaucoma specifically those in the regions of the Caribbean islands, Africa and the USA have the highest incidence of open-angle glaucoma. Because of its dominant nature in Africa, it is referred to as “silent thief of sight”. Among these black populations, the risk factors include poor awareness, underprivileged care, less optimal diagnosis and poor management. One of the main reason is socio-economic deprivation exacerbates the situation, leading to the very late presentation.
Glaucoma in advanced phase is very difficult to treat. It is preventable when diagnosed at the early and treated promptly. The annual regular eye checkup helps in the prevention of disease among the aged people. The checkup is must for people who have a glaucoma hereditary function. At present, the lost vision is impossible to restore. However, the decrease of intraocular pressure, microsurgery, and laser surgery can minimize the progress of the disease. Laser surgery procedure can considerably upturn the flow of the fluid from the eye if there’s any blockage. Today, a high priority is given to glaucoma to prevent blindness particularly those at the high risk.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. Glaucoma Overview. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
- Mayo Clinic. Glaucoma. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20372839
- National Health Service. Glaucoma. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/glaucoma/
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