Glaucoma: is there a cure? What eye drops are used?

A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about 80 million people had glaucoma in 2020, and that in 19 years, in 2040, this group will add up to 111.5 million.

This is a worrying fact, since glaucoma is responsible for the majority of cases of irreversible blindness in the world.

Thus, the Healthy Minute informs you about characteristics about the disease and what forms of treatment are possible for it in this text. Check out

Is glaucoma curable?

Frequent consultations with the ophthalmologist help in the early diagnosis of glaucoma and to avoid irreversible damage that the disease causes.

No! Unfortunately, there is still no developed technique that can revert the glaucoma picture, because it is a chronic condition that needs medical monitoring for the rest of your life. Therefore, it is necessary to start treatment as soon as possible, to avoid total loss of vision.

Glaucoma occurs when there are changes in the optic nerve, which lead to a process of damage to nerve fibers present in the eyeball, which ends up resulting in a reduction in the person’s visual ability.

In general, glaucoma can arise in 4 possible ways:

  • Congenital: the person has had glaucoma since birth, due to genetic malformation, however the signs are usually noticeable between 3 and 5 years of age.
  • Acute Primary: it affects the patient in an unexpected way causing the vision to become suddenly blurred, the most common symptoms are the increase of intraocular pressure in a fast and painful way, and redness in the region.
  • Chronic Primary: is the most common type of glaucoma among those who have the disease. In this case, the intraocular pressure will evolve over time, until it reaches an advanced stage (if it is not treated early) in which there is total loss of vision.
  • Secondary: some trauma that affects the eyes (cataracts, macular degeneration) or systemic diseases (diabetes), in addition to the use of corticosteroid drugs, such as eye drops.

There are treatments that can help control eye pressure, to alleviate symptoms and prevent major complications to the patient’s health.

Infant

Infantile glaucoma can be characterized as acute primary (with no apparent specific reason), secondary (occurs due to trauma that affected the eye area or systemic diseases) and congenital (since birth), which can affect babies and children in only one eye or both of us.

As a way of making an early diagnosis and preventing the disease from advancing, a “little eye test” is performed some time after birth by pediatricians, which helps to identify ophthalmological changes of any kind.

Although the specialist finds that there is no irregularity, at first, it is important that parents are always attentive to the appearance of common symptoms of ophthalmic diseases (which usually appear until the age of 5).

When it comes to glaucoma, the most common symptoms are:

  • Photophobia: occurs when the child cannot support the brightness of the environments, be it natural or artificial;
  • Blepharospasm: it is the irritation caused in the eyes due to the excessive contraction of the muscles around the eyeball;
  • Tearing: releasing constant tears without being linked to a crying reaction.
  • Change in the brightness of the eyes: when the child is in an advanced stage of glaucoma, especially in the age group of 3 years of age, there may be a drastic increase in the eyeball and, consequently, a change in the brightness of the eyes.

Advanced

It is characterized as the advanced stage of glaucoma when the person’s field of vision is already very reduced, depending on the evolution of the disease.

Therefore, it is common for patients with primary (simple chronic) glaucoma to find themselves in this stage, since in this type of case, the disease is gradual and asymptomatic, leading to a late diagnosis and the discovery of the disease at a critical and severe level.

For patients who start treatment with almost total loss of vision, there is no chance of recovery of the visual field, only the control of intraocular pressure will be done to avoid complete loss.

Congenital

Patients with congenital glaucoma are those who have had the disease since birth, so the main motivation is hereditary factors.

Although rare, congenital glaucoma is a cause for concern, because if it is not diagnosed in time it can affect the child’s development and cause childhood blindness.

Therefore, it is important that parents are aware of family history and take the child to an ophthalmologist if there is a chance of congenital glaucoma.

It is worth remembering that the symptoms may not appear soon after birth, but between 1 and 5 years of age, therefore, it is important to consult the specialist frequently to carry out evaluations during this period.

What is the treatment for glaucoma?

The treatment prescribed for patients with glaucoma will depend on the ophthalmologic diagnosis (the type of glaucoma presented), the risk factors and the person’s health conditions.

In general, it is possible to treat the disease through eye drops, laser / surgical procedures and medications. In certain cases, two forms of treatment can be combined.

Surgeries

The surgeries most recommended by specialists in the treatment of glaucoma are:

  • Trabeculectomy: it is the main indicated surgery. It is done by creating a fistula (passage) so that the intraocular fluid (aqueous humor) drains into the subconjunctival space. Through this procedure, the liquid passes from inside the eye through a window in the sclera (white part of the eye) to a filter bag.
  • Selective laser trabeculoplasty : consists of the controlled application of laser rays to the trabecular mesh in order to reduce intraocular pressure.
  • Laser iridectomy: it is a surgical procedure that makes a small hole in the periphery of the iris. This helps to regulate intraocular pressure and also helps to prevent narrow or narrow-angle glaucoma, which often happens
  • Goniotomy: prescribed especially in cases of infantile glaucoma, a special lens is used to visualize the structures of the internal eye, and thus to make openings in the trabecular meshwork to allow fluid drainage.

Medication

The drugs used in the treatment of glaucoma are prescribed in order to alleviate symptoms caused by the disease. Therefore, they may vary according to the presence of symptoms, since some patients may have more or less reactions due to glaucoma.

In general, the most common symptoms are: blurred and blurred vision, severe pain and redness inside the eye, excessive tearing, increased contraction of the muscles around the eyes.

Thus, some examples of drugs that can be indicated are:

  • Diamox ;
  • Meticorten .

Medications for side reactions, such as headache and nausea, may also be prescribed .

What are the eye drops to treat glaucoma?

Regular and proper use of eye drops by people with glaucoma is one way to prevent complete loss of vision.

The eye drops that can be prescribed by an ophthalmologist to contain the advance of glaucoma, are:

  • Timolol : classified as a beta-blocker that when applied acts to reduce intraocular pressure;
  • Alphagan: it is an adrenergic agonist, which at first acts by decreasing the aqueous humor and, in the second phase, it increases the drainage of this aqueous humor, which helps to reduce the high intraocular pressure;
  • Travoprost: it is an example of prostaglandin analog drops to increase the drainage of aqueous humor and act to contain intraocular pressure;
  • Pilocarpine : considered as a cholinergic agonist, this eye drop stimulates the decrease of resistance to the passage of aqueous humor, leading to a reduction in pressure inside the eye;
  • Dorzolamide : acts as an inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase, helping to contain the release of aqueous humor, resulting in reduced intraocular pressure.

Combined eye drops formulas can also be used to treat glaucoma.

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