Glaucoma is one of the serious eye diseases that affects a large number of elderly individuals. It can cause irreversible vision loss and even lead to blindness if left untreated. Yet, it is estimated that the majority of people affected by glaucoma do not undergo screening, and this disease remains relatively unknown. By becoming better informed and undergoing regular screenings, it is possible to detect the early symptoms of glaucoma and prevent vision deterioration.
When discussing glaucoma, it is important to address the issue of increased muscle tension or elevated intraocular pressure. This can represent an initial step toward glaucoma, which is why routine eye pressure checks with a professional, especially for the elderly, are crucial. The incidence of glaucoma increases with age, and it is estimated to affect between 1 and 2% of the population over 40 years old and 10% of those over 70 years old. Normal eye pressure should not exceed 21 millimeters of Mercury (mmHg). Beyond this point, it can create an increase in pressure inside the eye, leading to damage to the optic nerve at the retina and a reduction in the field of vision. This is the presence of glaucoma. However, it should be noted that high eye pressure does not always lead to glaucoma, and conversely, glaucoma can sometimes develop despite normal eye pressure.
To recognize the symptoms of glaucoma, it is important to know that there are several types of glaucoma, some of which are more symptomatic than others. Some can be very painful and present with distinctive signs such as sharp eye pain and redness, while others often go unnoticed and are only detected during a thorough eye examination by a professional. As glaucoma progresses, the optic nerve becomes increasingly damaged. Glaucoma manifests as a reduction in peripheral vision. If the damage continues to progress, central vision eventually disappears, leading to blindness.
Open-angle glaucoma is one of the forms of so-called "primary" glaucomas, meaning it occurs spontaneously. It can be congenital, occurring in infants around 3 or 4 months of age and being treated through surgery, or it can develop in adulthood. Among primary glaucomas in adults, open-angle glaucoma corresponds to a chronic form with slow and often silent progression. It accounts for 90% of glaucoma cases and affects both eyes, more or less simultaneously. It is often due to high intraocular pressure, or ocular hypertension, which is one of the primary risk factors for open-angle glaucoma. Monitoring this eye pressure is therefore the best way to prevent and halt its progression. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing glaucoma include aging, a genetic predisposition or family history, high myopia, eye globe malformation, or certain personal histories of retinal detachment, ocular hypertension, eye surgery, or eye trauma. Its progressive nature and lack of apparent symptoms, which can last for about fifteen years, make early detection of this particularly widespread type of glaucoma very challenging. Without regular check-ups, it is often diagnosed too late. Therefore, it is recommended to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist, especially if you have one or more of these risk factors. Some of the early signs of the disease may include vision disturbances like a sensation of visual fog and colored halos around lights, excessive tearing, and occasional headaches, all of which can often go unnoticed without systematic screening, recommended from the age of 40.
Closed-angle glaucoma, also known as acute glaucoma, also falls under the category of "primary" adult glaucoma, along with open-angle glaucoma. This acute form of glaucoma, much rarer than open-angle glaucoma, occurs suddenly due to the anatomical closure of the angle between the iris and the cornea, which is responsible for draining aqueous humor. This closure leads to a sudden increase in intraocular pressure, which compresses the optic nerve and rapidly impairs vision. A crisis of closed-angle glaucoma can be recognized by the following symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Intense eye pain and tearing
- Red eyes
- Very blurred vision
As soon as the first symptoms appear, such as blurry vision, a sensation of visual fog, even mild discomfort, and colored halos around lights, urgent ophthalmological care is necessary.
Hypermetropia, cataracts, and a family history can be risk factors for closed-angle glaucoma, and a crisis can be triggered under various circumstances, such as stress, certain medications, or prolonged periods in the dark, for example.
In addition to these two primary types of glaucoma, there are also secondary glaucomas. They are complications resulting from other diseases and occur due to various external causes, such as eye trauma, inflammatory eye diseases, cortisone treatment, diabetes, eye tumors, or other factors.
The treatment approach differs depending on whether it is closed-angle or open-angle glaucoma. Closed-angle glaucoma requires urgent medical attention. The goal is to rapidly reduce eye pressure by either stopping the production of aqueous humor or promoting its drainage. Several eye drops, analgesics, and medications will be administered urgently by the doctor. Subsequently, surgical or laser intervention may be considered to prevent recurrence. As for open-angle glaucoma, measuring eye pressure can reveal elevated intraocular pressure. After a thorough ophthalmological examination, the doctor may prescribe treatment. Otherwise, the disease will continue to progress until optic nerve damage leads to blindness."
Find suitable accomodation for senior citizens