- Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that affects approximately 60 million people globally.
- It is the second most common cause of blindness, leaving an estimated 7.5 million people blind. In India it affects 11 million people, of which 1.5 million are blind.
- Though there is no cure for this condition, doctors can help preserve remaining vision and enable patients to live a full life.
What is Glaucoma?
In glaucoma the field of vision decreases so gradually that often the patient does not realize the problem till it is too late. Since it usually causes blindness without any symptoms, glaucoma has been called the ‘sneak thief of sight’.
What Causes Glaucoma?
- Our eyes constantly produce a clear fluid called aqueous humor, which bathes and nourishes different regions of the eye (this is different from tears).
- Normally the fluid drains out of the eye through a ‘drainage canal’ located in the ‘angle’ of the eye, the junction between the cornea and the iris.
- In persons with glaucoma, the fluid does not drain out as freely as it should or sometimes there is altered secretion drainage Complex, thus increasing the pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP).
- The optic nerve carries all sensations from the retina to the brain.
- Raised IOP damages the optic disc (that part of the optic nerve that is inside the eye is called the optic disc).
- Glaucoma can sometimes occur with a statistically “normal” IOP.
- Hence the vulnerability of the optic disc is another factor that needs to be considered. Accordingly, the diagnosis of glaucoma requires more than just the mere measurement of intraocular pressure.