Glaucoma

Miniature pump regulates internal ocular pressure

Elevated or diminished eye pressure impairs our ability to see, and in the worst cases, can even lead to blindness. Until now, there has been no effective long-term treatment. In response, Fraunhofer researchers are developing ...

Jul 01, 2015
popularity8 comments 0

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged in a characteristic pattern. This can permanently damage vision in the affected eye(s) and lead to blindness if left untreated. It is normally associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye (aqueous humour). The term 'ocular hypertension' is used for people with consistently raised intraocular pressure (IOP) without any associated optic nerve damage. Conversely, the term 'normal tension' or 'low tension' glaucoma is used for those with optic nerve damage and associated visual field loss but normal or low IOP.

The nerve damage involves loss of retinal ganglion cells in a characteristic pattern. There are many different subtypes of glaucoma, but they can all be considered to be a type of optic neuropathy. Raised intraocular pressure (above 21 mmHg or 2.8 kPa) is the most important and only modifiable risk factor for glaucoma. However, some may have high eye pressure for years and never develop damage, while others can develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure. Untreated glaucoma can lead to permanent damage of the optic nerve and resultant visual field loss, which over time can progress to blindness.

Glaucoma can be roughly divided into two main categories, "open angle" and "closed angle" (or "angle closure") glaucoma. The angle refers to the area between the iris and cornea, through which fluid must flow to escape via the trabecular meshwork. Closed angle glaucoma can appear suddenly and is often painful; visual loss can progress quickly, but the discomfort often leads patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs. Open angle, chronic glaucoma tends to progress at a slower rate and patients may not notice they have lost vision until the disease has progressed significantly.

Glaucoma has been called the "silent thief of sight" because the loss of vision often occurs gradually over a long period of time, and symptoms only occur when the disease is quite advanced. Once lost, vision can not normally be recovered and so treatment is aimed at preventing further loss. Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts. It is also the leading cause of blindness among African Americans. Glaucoma affects one in 200 people aged fifty and younger, and one in 10 over the age of eighty. If the condition is detected early enough, it is possible to arrest the development or slow the progression with medical and surgical means.

The word "glaucoma" comes from the Greek γλαύκωμα, "opacity of the crystalline lens." (Cataracts and glaucoma were not distinguished until c.1705).

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

Latest Spotlight News

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

It don't mean a thing if the brain ain't got that swing

Like Duke Ellington's 1931 jazz standard, the human brain improvises while its rhythm section keeps up a steady beat. But when it comes to taking on intellectually challenging tasks, groups of neurons tune in to one another ...

New treatment options for a fatal leukemia

In industrialized countries like in Europe, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children. An international research consortium lead by pediatric oncologists from the Universities of Zurich and ...

Study identifies 'major player' in skin cancer genes

A multidisciplinary team at Yale, led by Yale Cancer Center members, has defined a subgroup of genetic mutations that are present in a significant number of melanoma skin cancer cases. Their findings shed light on an important ...

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...