With glaucoma, the decrease in vision is usually peripheral and gradual, making it difficult for patients to be aware of their increasing visual deficiency, until it becomes all too evident. The patient’s daily activities, generally, become severely restricted when the condition has affected 80% of the visual field.
Lost vision cannot be recovered. It is estimated that half of patients with the disease are unaware that they have it, as they have not noticed the symptoms and probably do not have regular check-ups to prevent this and other eye conditions.
To prevent glaucoma, patients should have check-ups at least every two years after the age of 40.
Diagnostic tests are quick and painless and only require an eye examination to assess the condition of the optic nerve. In patients with glaucoma, eye pressure is generally found to be in ranges that are higher than those that are considered normal, due to the accumulation of aqueous humour (the clear fluid that bathes the eye’s structures and maintains its optical properties), which cannot be drained properly as in a healthy eye.
Current treatment is based on reducing intraocular pressure, either by means of eye drops, laser treatment or conventional surgery (trabeculectomy, non-penetrating deep sclerectomy or the implantation of valves). While many glaucoma patients have high intraocular pressure, it is also important to note that the intraocular pressure of some sufferers is in the normal range.