Eye diseases are eye problems caused by numerous reasons, from genetic causes to habits and lifestyles. In the medium and long term they can cause, among other things, difficulty in vision and even, in more serious cases, blindness. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), currently around 285 million people are visually impaired in the world, of which between 60% and 80% of cases can be prevented and treated.
Most of these diseases can be prevented or treated when diagnosed early and correctly. Among eye diseases, we have the Glaucoma which, according to the WHO, affects between 1% and 2% of the population over 40 years of age worldwide, which represents about 3 million people.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy with characteristic repercussions on the visual field, whose main risk factor is increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and whose main outcome is irreversible blindness. The most relevant and studied risk factor for the development of the disease is the increase in IOP. This disease affects more than 67 million people worldwide and after cataracts, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, in addition to being the leading cause of irreversible blindness. In Brazil, there is a lack of information regarding the prevalence of glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma:
Open Angle Glaucoma:
In there is an increase in IOP and cause irreversible damage to the optic disc. One of the major problems in the evolution of this type of glaucoma is visual field loss and the difficult diagnosis that arises from the fact that the disease is silent.
this is the second most common type, in which there is an obstruction of the opening of the eye’s drainage system. This obstruction can occur quickly and extensively, resulting in a sudden increase in intraocular pressure, severe pain, nausea and blurred vision. This more serious situation is called acute glaucoma, but fortunately it represents a small part of angle-closure glaucoma cases. Most evolve more slowly and without symptoms¹.
Normal pressure glaucoma:
normal pressure glaucoma (NPG) is a progressive optic neuropathy that has the intraocular pressure (IOP) within the normal range (≤ 21 mmHg). Historically, the term glaucoma has been strongly associated with increased IOP, which causes cupping of the optic disc and loss of visual field due to damage to ganglion cells and retinal axons. Although it courses with normal IOP, GPN is considered a subtype of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).
qwhen the increase in intraocular pressure occurs after inflammatory diseases, advanced cataracts, alteration of the naturally existing pigments within the eyes, hemorrhage and obstruction of intraocular vessels. Another important cause of secondary glaucoma is the use of long-term corticosteroid eye drops without indication and/or monitoring by the ophthalmologist.
this type affects infants and young children and is the result of an error in the formation of the eye’s drainage system, causing the intraocular pressure to increase right at birth or in the first few months of life. The warning signs are a large and dull eye, tearing, great sensitivity to light, which causes the child to keep the eyelids tightly closed in very bright environments.
Who is most at risk of suffering from eye disease?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Glaucoma is the disease that causes the most irreversible blindness in the world. It is estimated that the disease will affect 111.5 million people by 2040. Experts warn that, most of the time, the patient only seeks out a specialist when he already has about 90% of impaired vision. The disease tends to be more common in individuals over 40 years old, who should see an ophthalmologist at least once a year.
Risk factors for developing Glaucoma:
Family history of illness:
- People with a family history of glaucoma are more likely to develop the disease.
- African ethnicity: higher risk for open-angle glaucoma;
- Asian ethnicity: higher risk for narrow-angle glaucoma;
Age over 40 years:
- One out of 50 people over age 35 has glaucoma and three out of 100 over age 65 has glaucoma;
Eye diseases: tumors, retinal detachment and inflammation can increase the risk of glaucoma;
- Medications: Prolonged use of corticosteroid-based medications.
Presence of other diseases:
Patients with diabetes, heart problems, hypertension and hyperthyroidism are factors that need more specialist attention.
People at higher risk of developing glaucoma should see an ophthalmologist annually and maintain regular eye exams.
Does Glaucoma have a cure?
Glaucoma has no cure, but early diagnosis decreases the chances of losing sight. Therefore, it is important to maintain periodic appointments with an ophthalmologist. Treatment is usually done with medications, laser procedures and surgeries, according to the health professional’s indication. The faster you discover and start treatment, the less vision loss will be.
Glaucoma prevention is done with regular visits to the ophthalmologist, as this disease is only diagnosed during an ophthalmological examination.
If the person has a family history of glaucoma, high myopia or moderate or high hyperopia, they should be more attentive. The disease, when diagnosed and treated early, is usually well controlled, preserving the patients’ vision.
Virtual Health Library. Ministry of Health. Available at: https://bvsms.saude.gov.br/26-5-dia-nacional-de-combate-ao-glaucoma-5/#
Ministry of Health. Eye diseases, symptoms and prevention. Available at: https://www.gov.br/saude/pt-br/assuntos/saude-de-aaz/d/doencas-oculars
INTERDISCIPLINARY UNIT OF INCLUSIVE POLICIES. May 26th, International Glaucoma Day. Available at: https://upi.ufv.br/informativo/26-de-maio-dia-nacional-de-combate-ao-glaucoma/#.
Peixoto, RB (2017). Risk factors for the development and progression of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: Systematic review of the literature.
Ministry of Health. PCDT (Clinical Protocol and Therapeutic Guidelines for Glaucoma). Brasília – DF, 2022. Available at: https://www.gov.br/conitec/pt-br/midias/consultas/relatorios/2022/20220325_relatorio_pcdt_do_glaucoma_cp_09.pdf
BRAZILIAN COUNCIL OF OPHTHALMOLOGY. Diseases – Glaucoma. Available at: https://www.cbo.com.br/pacientes/doencas/doencas_glaucoma.htm
Sao Paulo’s State Government. Doctors emphasize the importance of prevention in the fight against glaucoma. May.2020. Available at: https://www.saopaulo.sp.gov.br/ultimas-noticias/medicos-destacam-importancia-da-prevencao-na-luta-contra-o-glaucoma/
by Maria Aburachid, I., Batista, ACA, de Souza, BAM, by Paula Mangussi, C., da Cunha Chagas, FR, Machado, RD, & Côrtes, GAS (2021). Normal pressure glaucoma: an integrative review and its treatments Low tension glaucoma: an integrative review. Brazilian Journal of Development, 7(7), 67141-67154.
FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF SÃO PAULO. News – Glaucoma, the silent villain of vision. Available at: https://sp.unifesp.br/epe/desc/noticias/glaucoma-o-vilao-silencioso-da-visao
BRASILIA AGENCY. Government Portal in the Federal District. Glaucoma Combat Day alerts people on how to control the disease. Available at: https://www.agenciabrasilia.df.gov.br/2022/05/26/dia-de-combate-ao-glaucoma-alerta-populacao-sobre-como-controlar-a-doenca/#
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