Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve caused by intraocular pressure. The good health of the optic nerve depends on the blood circulation and consequently on the supply of nutrients. If blood circulation is slowed down or worse, blocked because of high intraocular pressure, the nerve starts to suffer and, if this condition lasts for too long, the nerve begins to get damaged. It is important to highlight that nerve suffering is a reversible condition, while the damage is permanent.
At the beginning the damage arises without the patient can realise it and it consists in a gradual loss of visual field. The damage becomes clear only when the disease is quite advanced, but unfortunately at this stage the loss of vision cannot be recovered. For this reason early diagnostic of glaucoma is extremely important and it can be made by periodic eye tests that determine intraocular pressure in addition to the simple visual acuity test, and that, in case of suspected conditions, include a computer-assisted visual field test.
People suffering from glaucoma have to undergo periodic tests for the rest of their lives. Since there is not an intraocular pressure value completely safe or, on the other hand, pathological, everyone has to periodically verify it with several tests, such as the visual field test or the evaluation of the thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer (GDx or OCT).
The treatment aims at preventing further loss of vision. In the last years very effective medicines has been developed to treat glaucoma, available in the form of eye-drops. These medicines has to be taken regularly and they don’t have to be suspended without the approval of the ophthalmologist.
In case the use of these eye-drops is not effective, it is possible to undergo both laser and conventional surgery. Laser surgery is usually performed in case glaucoma is not particularly serious, while conventional surgery allows to cure glaucoma even at advanced stages with the implant of small valves.