Glaucoma, how to recognize it with the right exams and how to face it

Glaucoma, how to recognize it with the right exams and how to face it

Glaucoma puts our visual ability at risk. It is linked to the increase in eye pressure and does not present any appreciable symptoms

Do you know a mouse that slowly gnaws everything it finds in the pantry, without even realizing it? Something similar can also happen in the eye when glaucoma develops. Slowly, day after day, this pathology "takes away" a very small part of our visual ability. And if you don't recognize it in time, you can get to the point that, after having eroded the vision in the peripheral part, attacks the central vision. At that point the damage is done.

This is why we need to get there early, as experts point out on the occasion of the world week dedicated to this eye disease. For the occasion, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness IAPB Italia onlus is mobilizing with a gazebo in 60 cities: according to data, about one million people are affected by the disease in our country but many do not know they have it.

Why early detection is important

This disease represents one of the top three causes of visual handicap and worries because it basically does not give rise to appreciable symptoms, so it is often discovered when it has already created problems. The pathology affects the optic nerve and is linked to the increase in pressure inside the eye. The optic nerve is usually damaged by too high intraocular pressure.

The most common form of glaucoma is open angle, linked to a sort of aging of the drain filter: the ability to reabsorb the aqueous humor slowly decreases with the passing of the years and the pressure inside the eye rises . This form of glaucoma damages eyesight gradually and subtly, so much so that it can cause even very serious problems before being recognized. There are even cases in which the pathology progresses even if the intraocular pressure remains within normal values.

It is therefore essential to play in advance, considering that for this type of glaucoma the most important risk factor is advancing age, in addition to obviously any genetic predisposition.

For this reason, it is good practice, even in the absence of specific disorders, to carry out a complete eye examination at least once after 40 years of age. The specialist is the only one capable of reliably measuring eye pressure, and above all he is able to assess whether the other important signs that are part of the diagnosis are present or to identify any risk factors.

What is tonometry for?

The key exam, although others are carried out to better define the pathological situation, is tonometry, a simple and painless test: anesthetic eye drops are administered and a yellow-orange dye is applied. Then a small cone of plastic material attached to the "biomicroscope" is placed on the cornea. Thanks to a blue light illumination the pressure is then measured.

If this has increased, the ophthalmologist has the weapons to buffer the situation, even if the damage already done to the optic nerve cannot be corrected. It is always necessary to define a specific treatment plan for each patient, also because the speed of worsening varies greatly in different patients and can be rapid or very slow.

There are patients with primary open-angle glaucoma who show minimal worsening or remain stable even after years of monitoring, but others in whom the worsening can be very rapid.

As for the treatments, the approach primarily involves the use of specific eye drops, which allow you to lower the pressure to the desired levels: however, it is essential that the treatment is followed regularly, speaking with the care provider if side effects or eye discomfort appear who can't stand it.

The other options, intended for increasingly selected cases, are linked to the use of the laser to correct the anatomical defect associated with the pathology (there are different forms of glaucoma) or even real targeted microsurgery interventions. In any case, the important thing is to arrive early. Only in this way can the "thief" of sight be better controlled.

Category: Health
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