Glaucoma as a common eye disease
Glaucoma is the second most common eye disease around the globe, with approximately 2% of the population suffering from or being statistically affected by glaucoma. The risk of contracting this disease is significantly higher among Asian and African populations. This makes glaucoma almost as common as the widespread disease diabetes.
The different types of glaucoma
Glaucoma is a generic term for many different types of disease, with a distinction made between genetically transmitted and acquired glaucoma.
Genetic glaucoma is the most common type of this disease, with a distinction made between open-angle glaucoma, narrow/closed-angle glaucoma, pseudoexfoliative glaucoma and juvenile glaucoma.
Acquired glaucoma is caused by certain medications or accidents and, in rare cases, can occur as a complication after eye surgery.
How is glaucoma manifested?
Briefly described, glaucoma is manifested in the loss of optic nerve tissue in the optic nerve, which is diagnosed based on “cupping” or hollowing out the optic nerve exit in the eye. Although increased eye pressure frequently plays a role, normal tension glaucoma may also occur.
Almost all forms of glaucoma are completely asymptomatic, without pain or other discomfort, until shortly before blindness. This is the main reason why every 10th person with glaucoma suffers from impaired vision or a form of blindness. The earliest possible detection of the disease is therefore crucial, because no one has to go blind from glaucoma today. Loss of the visual field or partial or total blindness only occur when there is no ophthalmic care available.
Eye check-ups for early detection
Professional ophthalmology societies recommend eye check-ups every five years for those between the ages of 40 and 50, every three years for those between the ages of 50 and 60, and annually for those older than 60. The rate of genetic glaucoma increases exponentially with age. Depending on the situation, a patient taking cortisone or special medication that alters muscle tone is more likely to need a check-up with an ophthalmologist. Early childhood glaucoma is diagnosed and treated immediately together with the paediatrician. In this case the above check-up intervals obviously do not apply.
Almost all glaucomas are treated with daily eye drops. Although laser treatment can reduce medication, it rarely replaces it altogether. Surgery is only performed in severe forms of glaucoma that do not (or no longer) respond to medication or laser treatment. A variety of eye drops are used depending on the acceptance and response of the eye. There are also different types of lasers applied to various points on the eye (more about this in my blog article Laser as therapy). Glaucoma surgery is performed using a variety of surgical approaches with varying degrees of invasiveness, and aim to control and ultimately stop the disease. However, a glaucoma can rarely be cured. Nowadays, however, glaucoma almost never leads to blindness if it is detected early as described above.
We will be happy to perform your regular check-ups according to the latest findings of glaucoma research. Call us on +41 44 261 70 10 to make an appointment. We are your competent ophthalmologist in Zurich and look forward to your visit.