Chronic glaucoma is an eye disease which normally does not have many symptoms (silent blindness) and is one of the principal causes of blindness in our country. By having an annual check-up of our ocular tension, prevention and an early diagnosis are possible, which are key to avoiding a progression towards a total and irreversible loss of vision.

What is chronic glaucoma ?

Inside the eye a liquid is produced which is called aqueous humor. This is drained by small ducts into the bloodstream. This liquid puts pressure on the eye, which is normally between 10 and 20 mmHg. When this draining becomes increasingly obstructed, it causes an increase in intraocular pressure, which induces atrophy of the optic nerve and a progressive loss of vision.

What are the symptoms ?

Glaucoma is known as ‘silent blindness’, due to the fact that it is almost without symptoms but over the years one slowly loses the peripheral part of one’s visual field, maintaining however, good central vision almost until the end. In the final stages it can be compared to looking through the barrel of a shotgun. It ends in total and irreversible blindness.

What are the causes ?

The hereditary factor is important, especially for people over the age of forty. More people are affected among the myope population. The indiscriminate use of eyedrops with corticoids can cause glaucoma in patients who are genetically predisposed to it.

How is it treated ?

It will depend on how much the disease has evolved, but what must be done is to decrease the intraocular pressure by means of a suitable pharmacological treatment or alternatively with a surgical intervention or by use of laser. By using these treatments an attempt is made to stop the disease, but it is not possible to recuperate the lost vision, which is secondary to the optical atrophy.

Is it possible to prevent this disease ?

We talk of glaucoma when the patient has an elevated intraocular pressure and this has already caused some degree of atrophy to the optic nerve, which can be distinguished from ocular hypertension in which the nerve remains healthy and therefore vision is not affected. For this reason it is very important that everyone over the age of forty, especially if they have a family history of glaucoma, and more so if they are myopes, has their ocular tension checked by their ophthalmologist at least once a year. By doing this it is possible to prevent a case of ocular hypertension developing into glaucoma.