Pathology of Ocular Glaucoma

Glaucoma belongs to a group of eye diseases associated with progressive damage to the optic nerve. It is an irreversible ocular lesion, in which late or invalid diagnosis can lead to total blindness. The eye produces the aqueous fluid, which is released from the venous circulation. In the case of obstacle appearance, the volume of fluid increases resulting in intense pressure on the walls of the eye.

The increase in intraocular pressure causes gradual damage to the optic nerve resulting the decrease in the sensitivity of ganglion cells and the ultimate destruction of it.

Risk Factors

The progression of the disease is usually slow so it is characterized as a “silent disease” since Glaucoma in its early stages is asymptomatic. People most likely to develop Glaucoma are diabetics, individuals with hypertension, with myopia, the elderly, people with vascular diseases and those with hereditary predisposition.

It is a disease directly linked to age since its prevalence almost triples after the age of 40.

The types of Glaucoma are divided into:

  • Primary Open angle Glaucoma (chronic) which is completely asymptomatic and for this reason is characterized as “sneaky”. Despite the physical appearance of the eye which looks normal, the patient slowly but steadily loses his vision due to increased resistance to the removal of the 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.
  • Closed angle Glaucoma (acute) in which the presence of severe symptoms is evident. It is rather painful and redness of the eye usually appears as well as dizziness and blurred vision. Mainly in elderly patients the lens of the eye grows, thus pushing the iris forward and limiting the space between the iris and the cornea. This angle is now narrow and the fluid in the eye is blocked by the abduction system. Therefore the fluid accumulates and the pressure on the eye increases.

Other types of Glaucoma are Congenital Glaucoma and that of Normal Pressure, but their occurrences are extremely rare.

Diagnosis – Treatment – Acupuncture

High intraocular pressure does not necessarily mean that the patient suffers from Glaucoma. Initially the ophthalmologist evaluates the patient’s history in combination with specific diagnostic tests. These are the tonometer, evaluation of the optic nerve and fiber optics and control of the field of light (recognition of light in different areas of the retina).

Medication is often followed for the treatment of Glaucoma, with the main aim of reducing intraocular pressure. Interventions are also performed using Laser or classic surgeries based on the clinical diagnosis of the patient, when the conservative treatment has not performed. The goal is to create a new draining environment. Patients with Glaucoma need to continue their treatment for the rest of their lives, even after surgery, as the disease can suddenly relapse.

Ocular Glaucoma and Acupuncture

Primary open-angle Glaucoma affects over 60 million people worldwide and is the most common cause of irreversible blindness. Although common treatments can help to delay the progression of the disease, Glaucoma currently has no cure. However, ancient texts of Chinese Medicine, including Yin Hai Jing Wei (Essential Subtleties on the Silver Sea), a 15th century book on ophthalmology, have established treatment protocols for many eye diseases including Glaucoma. To test ancient theory against a modern understanding of disease progression, there have been a number of studies published examining the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including herbs and acupuncture, for the treatment of Glaucoma. Recently, researchers at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital (Dresden, Germany) investigated the short-term effects of acupuncture on different ocular blood flow (OBF) parameters and found that acupuncture based on eye-specific protocols had reproducible and quantifiable effects on ocular blood flow in patients with primary open-angle Glaucoma (see clinical study) .

In addition to complying with medication, in order to maintain normal eye pressure, Acupuncture treatments performed by a qualified physician acupuncturist can be a valuable ally during this effort. Acupuncture is capable to assist regular treatment, stabilizing eye pressure and protect the optic nerve from further damage. The desired eye pressure may vary from person to person based on their medical history.