Development of Glaucoma

A Brief Overview of Glaucoma

The eyes are our most important sensory organs, both complex and sensitive. Many eye diseases may affect our vision, bringing terrible consequences to the way we perceive the world around us. These include harmless eye diseases such as chronic dry eye, vitreous opacities, and strabismus, as well as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. This blog will bring helpful knowledge about glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve, usually due to high intraocular pressure (IOP). It is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it can cause irreversible vision loss without any symptoms until it’s too late.

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Causes of glaucoma

Glaucoma is mainly caused by the increase in intraocular pressure (eye pressure). The anterior chamber located in front of the eye is filled with clear secretion (aqueous humor) that constantly flows in and out through the anterior chamber angle. If the flow of aqueous humor is blocked and cannot be drained, it will lead to an increase in eye pressure, causing compression of the optic nerve, poor blood circulation, and damage to the optic nerve.

People with high myopia and long-term use of corticosteroid medicines, especially eye drops, or a history of eye trauma, are more likely to develop glaucoma. In addition, systemic diseases such as migraines, Raynaud’s phenomenon, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and others are also associated with an increased risk of glaucoma.

Symptoms of glaucoma

Glaucoma, apart from when it occurs causing a sudden rapid increase in eye pressure, other symptoms are usually only noticeable when significant damage is done to the optic nerve and/or retina. The typical symptoms include watery eyes and vision loss, such as distorted peripheral vision and narrowing of the outer visual field. Glaucoma can sometimes cause central vision loss or the appearance of colorful halos when looking at bright light sources.

During an acute episode or glaucoma attack, eye pressure will suddenly and sharply rise. This may also be accompanied by symptoms such as red eyes, hardening of the eyeball, eye pain and headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fixed pupils (pupils do not react to light), and sudden blindness may also occur.

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Development of Glaucoma

  • Eye structure

Like the diagram shows, the eye is shaped like a ball, with a transparent outer structure called the cornea at the front of the eye, the iris behind the cornea, the pupil at its center, and the lens suspended behind the pupil. The space between the cornea and the lens is filled with a clear fluid called aqueous humor (AH). This fluid is continuously produced inside the eye and carries nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the eye and is responsible for maintaining the intraocular pressure (IOP).

  • IOP maintenance

IOP depends on the balance between the production and outflow of AH in the eye, which is produced in the ciliary body behind the iris, flows through the pupil, and exits through the trabecular meshwork, which is present in the drainage angle between the cornea and the iris. In the normal eye, there is a balance between AH production and outflow, and when outflow is restricted, then IOP is usually elevated.

  • Optic nerve damage

The eye requires a certain level of pressure to maintain its shape, but if the pressure is too high, it can put pressure on the optic nerve. Elevated pressure damages the optic nerve by reducing the blood supply to the optic nerve and by direct pressure damage to the nerve cells, and damage caused in this way is diagnosed as glaucoma.

Current research on glaucoma

Currently, there are some great advancements in glaucoma research, including:

  • “The Role of Inflammation in the Pathogenesis of Glaucoma” – This research investigates the role of inflammation in the development and progression of glaucoma, suggesting potential anti-inflammatory therapies as a treatment strategy.
  • “Advances in Imaging Technologies for Glaucoma Diagnosis and Monitoring” – This study reviews recent advances in imaging technologies for the early detection and monitoring of glaucoma, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis in preventing vision loss.
  • “Genetic Risk Factors for Glaucoma and Exfoliation Syndrome Identified by Genome” – This research published on PubMed Central explores the genetic risk factors associated with glaucoma, providing insights into the underlying genetic mechanisms of the disease.

Research into glaucoma has made significant strides in recent years, bringing hope to those affected by this debilitating disease.

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