Glaucoma. Important Information for You, Your Doctor and Your Family
When someone is diagnosed with glaucoma it can be a very difficult time in their lives. A diagnosis of glaucoma often times leads to many questions and concerns about the disease, not only from that individual but his or her family and friends. Please take the time to review this information to help familiarize yourself about the disease.
Glaucoma: A Brief Overview…
Glaucoma is not a single disease rather it is a group of diseases that gradually steal ones sight without warning and often times without any prior symptoms. The loss of vision occurs due to damaging of the optic nerve. There are many forms of glaucoma however two are most prominent, the first, primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form of glaucoma. Next is a slightly more rare form known as Angle Closure Glaucoma, although rare much more dangerous and fast acting than POAG. Glaucoma is a chronic non-curable disease and it must be treated for life.
Number of Cases
It is estimated that at least 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know that they have it. Glaucoma accounts for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the U.S., approximately 120,000 people are blind due to glaucoma. Roughly 2% of the population ages 40 – 50 have elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) which is the symptom that leads to glaucoma, the rate is even higher in individuals over the age of 70 where the percentage climbs to 8%. African-Americans between the ages of 45 – 65 are 14 to 17 times more likely to develop glaucoma than a Caucasian in the same group. Estimates are in the range of 65 million suspected cases worldwide.
Glaucoma may be treated two possible ways; most often times with medication in the form of eye drop or surgery and in some cases both. Both the eye drops and surgeries work by reducing the amount of pressure on the eye caused by excess fluid. Glaucoma medications must be taken daily to control the pressure in the eye. Other forms of treatment include:
Nitric Oxide Synthase
Note: Speak to your personal physician if you think one of these possible treatments is for you or if you have any questions.
Advances in Research
Their have been many advances in research to help understand and treat glaucoma’s effects. New drugs are constantly being developed and better surgeries are being performed all in the effort to help the world cope with this problem. Recent advances have found that a drug used for Parkinson’s disease named memantine can also be used to help treat some effects of glaucoma. The drug Memantine is able to bind itself to cells of the optic nerve and help protect them from any further damage. Another form of treatment advancement is a new type of surgery. This procedure is known as Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) and was approved by the FDA in March 2001. All these advancements are making it possible to better diagnose the disease and help those that already have it. Without donations for research funding from generous donors we would be at a significant loss of information regarding this disease.