Glaucoma

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Conjunctival vessels dilated at the corneal edge and hazy cornea characteristic of acute angle closure glaucoma

Glaucoma is a term describing a group of ocular disorders with multifactorial etiology united by a clinically characteristic intraocular pressure-associated optic neuropathy. The disorders can be roughly divided into two main categories, "open-angle" and "closed-angle" (or "angle closure") glaucoma. The angle refers to the area between the iris and cornea, through which fluid must flow to escape via the trabecular meshwork. Closed-angle glaucoma can appear suddenly and is often painful; visual loss can progress quickly, but the discomfort often leads patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs. Open-angle, chronic glaucoma tends to progress at a slower rate and patients may not notice they have lost vision until the disease has progressed significantly.

The increased intraocular pressure can permanently damage vision in the affected eye(s) and lead to blindness if left untreated. It is normally associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye (aqueous humour). The term "ocular hypertension" is used for people with consistently raised intraocular pressure (IOP) without any associated optic nerve damage. Conversely, the term 'normal tension' or 'low tension' glaucoma is used for those with optic nerve damage and associated visual field loss, but normal or low intraocular pressure.

The nerve damage involves loss of retinal ganglion cells in a characteristic pattern. The many different subtypes of glaucoma can all be considered to be a type of optic neuropathy. Raised intraocular pressure (above 21 mmHg or 2.8 kPa) is the most important and only modifiable risk factor for glaucoma. However, some may have high eye pressure for years and never develop damage, while others can develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure. Untreated glaucoma can lead to permanent damage of the optic nerve and resultant visual field loss, which over time can progress to blindness.

Source: Wikipedia[1]

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References

  1. Glaucoma at Wikipedia. Retrieved September 30, 2014.


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