Focus on glaucoma Focus on glaucoma

Focus on glaucoma

WITH YOUR BODY 1 February, 2018 Isabel Vallejo


This group of conditions is the main cause of irreversible blindness in the world. It is estimated that 11 million people will have it by 2020.

Medical Advisor Lucas Saldarriaga Franco, ophthalmologist

Even though this condition is silent at first, presents no symptoms and is unperceived by patients, it can become very aggressive as it progresses. Once it has taken over the eye, the damage it causes can be irreversible if it is not controlled in a timely manner.

This is the description of the impact glaucoma can have given by ophthalmologist Lucas Saldarriaga Franco. Glaucoma is a group of conditions that have one characteristic in common: they all cause permanent damage to the optic nerve.

To help understand this condition, Saldarriaga compares the eye to a ping pong ball: it is an enclosed sphere with an internal pressure that is measured in millimeters of mercury that ranges between 10 and 21 mm Hg (determined by specialists with a tool called a tonometer). The body produces up to two microliters of fluid inside the eye per minute. This same amount then drains out of the eye cavity through the pores that surround it. This condition occurs when too much fluid is produced or when the drainage pores are temporarily or permanently obstructed, thereby increasing the eye’s internal pressure.

There are two types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma (the most common) and closed-angle glaucoma (the most severe). Early detection is key to avoiding serious side effects, which is why it is important to be seen by a specialist.

Initial symptoms

In the beginning stages of open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common form, people will not feel or experience a problem with their vision, even though there is one. However, with the risk levels of the pressure in the eye, patients will experience red eyes, visual field loss, blurry vision and sensitivity to light.

At this state, it is irreversible. It can be controlled, however, with eyedrops and medications that reduce the production of fluid in the eye and help prevent further nerve damage. Depending on the level of pressure in the eye, surgical procedures or laser surgery may be needed.

Warning signs

People with closed-angle glaucoma may experience intense pain at night, sudden vision loss and ocular pressure higher than 50 or 60 mm Hg. While this type of glaucoma is less common, it is more serious and aggressive.

35 mlof mercury. When ocular pressure reaches above this amount, a person begins to have symptoms.

See also:

Keep an eye out for ocular bleeding