Primer on Glaucoma

Glaucoma can trace its roots to Ancient Greece and is derived from the word Glaux which means owl. Ancient Greeks had a propensity to name diseases after animal due to their belief that this animal would then help the patient combat the disease. 

And so it is the owl that plays a central role in combating Glaucoma. 

Ancient Greek gem showing an owl taking centre stage in the fight against eye disease

Ancient Greek gem showing an owl taking centre stage in the fight against eye disease. []

Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve is damaged. This is normally caused through buildup of fluid in the eye which increases pressure. The pressure can injure or exploit a pre-existing weakness in the optic nerve. 

The effects of this damage may not be noticeable at first due to it normally developing over many years and primarily affecting peripheral vision. Because of this it is advised to take regular eye tests as this is usually how glaucoma is detected. 

Due to the variable nature of the cause, there are five main types of glaucoma, with most characterised by patchy blind spots in peripheral or central vision of both eyes. 

  • Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type and is characterised by slow damage to the optic and changes to eyesight. 
  • Closed angle glaucoma occurs when eye pressure rises suddenly and can be very painful.
  • Normal tension glaucoma is when the pressure is within the normal range but damage to the optic nerve still happens. 
  • Secondary glaucoma is a result of the presence of another eye condition, an injury to the eye, or certain medication or treatments. 
  • It is also possible to be born with an improper drainage system in the eye causing congenital glaucoma.

Currently, there is no cure to restore the vision of someone with glaucoma. However, it is possible to stop or slow the degradation of vision and stave away permanent sight loss by controlling the level of pressure in the eyes. 

Eyedrops are the most common form of treatment with many people using them daily for many years. For some, it may be necessary to have laser eye treatment or surgery to help control the pressure. 

Recent developments have seen specialty glasses produced which can condense a wider field of view and display it in a patient’s more narrow field of view, effectively replacing part of their lost vision. More and more people are finding these smart glasses useful in their daily lives and the future points towards more advanced developments and further innovation in this field.