PATHOLOGY OF THE DISEASE
Glaucoma belongs to a group of eye diseases associated with progressive optic nerve damage. Irreversible ocular damage to the eye can be caused as a result of invalid or late diagnosis and in severe cases this can lead to total blindness (advanced glaucoma). The eye produces the aqueous fluid, which is drained by the venous circulation. Certain obstacles may disrupt the normal sequence of events, the volume of fluid increases, resulting in more intense pressure on the walls of the eye.
The increased intraocular pressure causes gradual damage to the optic nerve, thereby reducing the sensitivity of the ganglion cells and ultimately destroying them.
The progression of eye glaucoma is usually slow thus it is characterized as a “silent disease” since in the early stages tends to be asymptomatic. People most likely to develop glaucoma are diabetics, individuals with high blood pressure, myopic, the elderly, people with vascular disease and those with a hereditary predisposition. It is a disease directly linked with age, since its prevalence is almost tripled after the age of 40 (5% compared to 1.8% below 40).
Different types of eye glaucoma and their potential causes:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma (chronic) which is completely asymptomatic at first and this is the main threat regarding this type of glaucoma. Despite the normal appearance of the eyes, the patient slowly but steadily loses his eyesight due to the increased resistance to aqueous fluid. Initially, glaucoma affects peripheral vision, but generally after a certain period affects central vision as well. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to significant vision loss in both eyes, and the patient might even go totally blind.
- Angle-closure glaucoma (also called “closed-angle glaucoma”) where the presence of severe symptoms is obvious, predominantly with pain, redness of the eye, dizziness and blurred vision.Mainly in older patients, the lens in the eye becomes larger thus pushing the iris forward and narrowing the space between the iris and the cornea. This angle is now narrow and the fluid in the eye is blocked from the drainage system. Therefore the fluid builds up and eye pressure increases, thus resulting in increased eye pressure.
Congenital glaucoma and normal pressure glaucoma are the two other types of the disease but their occurrence is extremely rare.
DIAGNOSIS – THERAPY – ACUPUNCTURE
High intraocular pressure does not necessarily mean that the patient suffers from glaucoma. The ophthalmologist has to first evaluate the patient’s medical history along with specific diagnostic tests. Τonometry, the evaluation of the optic nerve and the optic fibers, and testing and controlling the optic fields (recognition of light in different areas of the retina) are the main tests used in ophthalmology.
For Glaucoma therapy a number of medications are typically used in order to reduce elevated pressure in the eye. Conventional or Laser surgery are chosen when results from pharmaceutical medication are proved unsatisfactory. The targeting in the latter is fluid drainage out of the eye.
Glaucoma patients have to continue their treatment for the rest of their lives, even after surgery, as the disease can relapse suddenly. In addition to complying with eye medications in order to maintain a normal eye pressure, acupuncture can be a valuable asset along this effort. Acupuncture enhances their regular treatment and stabilizes the eye pressure to a greater extent as it protects the optic nerve from further damage. The desired eye pressure can differ from one individual to another based on his/her medical history.