Chronic glaucoma risks

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In contrast to acute glaucoma, chronic glaucoma (or primary open-angle glaucoma) has no obvious symptoms during its development process. This form of glaucoma gradually reduces the patient’s peripheral vision and permanent visual damage has become a reality once the disease becomes “noticeable”. It sounds scary and chronic glaucoma is actually called “the silent thief of sight”.

The common point and difference between chronic and acute glaucoma

However, chronic glaucoma performs in a similar way as acute glaucoma. Both of them involve high intraocular pressure (IOP), which is caused by a blockage of the eye’s fluid drainage channel. High IOP pushes against the optic nerve and further reduces the blood supply to it, so that vision loss is caused over time. The difference between the two forms of glaucoma lies in that chronic form glaucoma builds up IOP chronically, rather than suddenly.

Aging and some ocular problems may cause chronic glaucoma

There are various risk factors that may contribute to the development of chronic glaucoma, e.g. natural aging, medical problems, ocular disorders, race and family disease history. Natural aging may cause drainage channels in the eye to shrink and narrow gradually, resulting in slower fluids flow. In particular, people older than 40 have a much higher risk since their eyes have developed a considerable degree of aging. Diabetes, high-level myopia, eye surgery history and experience of high dose steroids will also increase the rate of developing chronic glaucoma. Moreover, dangerous medical conditions include migraine headaches, high blood pressure, narrowed blood vessels and so forth.

Who are more likely to suffer chronic glaucoma?

Eye abnormalities that affect the internal eye structure may cause chronic glaucoma. For example, pseudoexfoliation syndrome causes proteins to clog the eye’s drainage system. African-Americans are estimated to have much higher risks of developing aggressive forms of chronic glaucoma. Chronic glaucoma in the parents or siblings may bring a higher risk of the disease to the other family members.

Possible treatments

Currently, treatments for chronic glaucoma include topical glaucoma eye drops, laser and non-laser glaucoma surgeries. All of these solutions have something in common that they are supposed to reduce eye pressure. Today, some eye drops and pills can successfully lower patients’ eye pressure. In some cases, it is necessary to take more than one type of eye drop. There are still eye drops and pills that are under experiments or clinical trial. Furthermore, surgical treatments are also available and they are generally a more thorough solution. A glaucoma surgery will typically open the fluid outflow channels in the eye.