Over 250 ophthalmologists specialising in glaucoma are to meet this Friday 14th and Saturday 15th November at IMO for the Trends in Glaucoma, an international course on the disease that has been organised by IMO Foundation under the direction of doctors Elena Arrondo, Sílvia Freixes and Carolina Pallás, the Institute's glaucoma specialists.
The meeting is extensively represented by the main experts both at home and abroad on this condition, which is the main cause of irreversible blindness in the world and affects almost one million people in Spain alone. During the meeting, 26 Spanish speakers and 9 from different European countries, Mexico and the United States are to explain the latest news in terms of prevention, diagnosis and surgical as well as non-surgical treatment.
Some of the matters to be discussed and that are worth underlining include:
- The relationship between sport and glaucoma, by Dr José Luis Urcelay, glaucoma specialist and marathon runner.
- The new SLT and PLT lasers, less aggressive and as effective as those classically used.
- Cataract surgery as an option for treating certain angle-closure glaucoma patients.
- New diagnosis devices, such as the ultrasound biomicroscopy, a high-resolution ultrasound that provides extremely useful information on glaucoma patients.
- Maintenance treatments after glaucoma surgery, such as injections of antifibrotic drugs, an extremely important aspect if it is considered that almost half of all surgeries require maintenance or further surgery several years later, especially due to scarring problems.
The different surgeries that currently exist are also to be discussed, without avoiding the controversy among surgeons preferring trabeculectomy – a more "classic" procedure, but, according to some specialists, with higher risks – compared to deep sclerectomy, a more recent technique with a greater learning curve for surgeons, but safer than trabeculectomy.
Furthermore, the latest treatment options, such as canaloplasty, in which a light probe is used to increase drainage, the ExPRESS implant, a simpler surgery in which a small tube is inserted into the eyeball, and the so-called MIGS, which are minimally invasive and very non-aggressive surgeries, although questioned by some surgeons because of their limited effectiveness in advanced glaucomas.
The experts will also debate on how to treat glaucoma in patients with normal intraocular pressure, considering that high intraocular pressure is the main risk factor for glaucoma and that all current treatments are aimed at its reduction.
Along these lines, certain studies will be expounded that show, however, the suitability of reducing pressure by 30% in patients with normal-tension glaucoma to prevent a worsening of the condition. The case of myopic patients who are at a greater risk of suffering from glaucoma will be discussed in relation to the suitability of subjecting them to refractive surgery and any glaucoma-related complications.
Other issues of interest will be glaucoma at paediatric age, which is relatively infrequent, but can lead to irreversible sight deficit in children, and secondary glaucomas that affect a large number of patients who, as well as glaucoma, suffer from other conditions, such as uveitis or diabetes, or who have suffered traumas or have been subjected to certain eye surgery procedures, such as a cornea transplant or vitrectomy (surgery to treat retina conditions).
Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, the structure that sends images from the eye to the brain. As a result, the patient's field of vision gradually decreases, normally from peripheral vision to central vision, and, therefore, offers no evident symptoms until very advanced stages of the disease, in which blindness can occur. In fact, this condition is the main cause of irreversible blindness in the world, with almost 70 million sufferers, although over half are unaware of the fact.
Loss of vision caused by this condition is chronic and irreversible, although its evolution can be slowed down and treated in its early stages through the use of drugs, laser or different types of surgery.