Glaucoma-causes, prevention, and treatment methods
According to statistics from the world health organization, glaucoma is the second cause of blindness, after cataracts. Every year, more than 10 million patients go to doctors with this diagnosis. In Russia alone, more than a million patients with glaucoma have been officially registered, while at least 500,000 people do not suspect that they have this disease.
What is this disease?
Glaucoma is a progressive, chronic eye disease that can lead to permanent vision loss. This is due to a violation of the natural circulation of the intraocular fluid, which causes an increase in intraocular pressure, resulting in damage to the retina and weakens the optic nerve.
Everyone is at risk of glaucoma, from an infant to a pensioner. At the same time, the reasons for its occurrence are unknown to specialists for sure. The danger is that most often this disease is asymptomatic and is diagnosed at a late stage, when the patient turns to an optometrist with complaints of acute vision loss.
Blindness begins with the loss of peripheral or lateral vision, which is initially compensated by unconscious turns of the head to the side. Thus, the early stages of the disease pass unnoticed and attract attention only when a person has a significant loss of vision.
Prevention and treatment methods
The best way to protect yourself from the effects of glaucoma is to undergo a full examination by an ophthalmologist and, in the case of a positive diagnosis, embark on the path of preserving vision. Despite the fact that to date, medicine has not found a complete cure for glaucoma, with the help of medication and surgical treatment, it is possible to stop the further progression of the disease and blindness.
To date, the most effective procedure for stopping the development of glaucoma as a first-line therapy is selective laser trabeculoplasty, which can reduce intraocular pressure by 30%.
As a rule, this method of treatment is the main choice of doctors and patients in the case when eye drops no longer have the desired effect, as well as in the initial stages of glaucoma development.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty, abbreviated SLT, is a fairly simple non-invasive procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis and is aimed at reducing intraocular pressure.
This procedure uses a laser with such a low level of thermal energy that it is often called “cold”. This type of laser affects selectively only certain pigment cells of the eye tissue, so it is called selective. Its effect is so gentle that it not only does not cause dysphomphrrt during the procedure, but also practically does not leave postoperative scars.
In addition, the patient does not even have to take a sick leave, since the correction with a “cold laser”, along with all the preparation, takes about 15 minutes.
The mechanism of action of SLT is quite simple.
Immediately before the procedure, for the effect of local anesthesia, analgesic drops are instilled into the operated eye. Then, using a special microscope, the doctor directs a concentrated light beam, similar to the flash of a camera, into the area of the drainage system of the eye. As a result, the thermal effect of the laser leads to chemical and biological changes in the tissues necessary to improve the removal of fluid from the eye that causes an increase in pressure. This procedure is absolutely painless and gives the patient a minimum of discomfort.
Within a few days after trabeculoplasty, approximately 75% of patients experience a significant decrease in intraocular pressure. However, the final result can be literally seen only after 1-3 months, after which patients are recommended to continue regular examinations by an ophthalmologist.
One of the main advantages of selective laser trabeculoplasty is the minimal number of side effects and postoperative complications. This makes laser correction safe, even compared to conventional glaucoma medications.
Among the possible side effects of the “cold laser” is a small postoperative inflammation that requires periodic medical supervision and passes by itself. In some cases, eye drops or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be required for oral administration to relieve inflammation.
In approximately 5% of cases, after laser correction of glaucoma, intraocular pressure may increase, which, as a rule, is easily susceptible to the action of glaucoma medications and passes within a day.
Despite the high effectiveness of CPT, it is very important to remember that this method is not 100% a cure for glaucoma, but only has a corrective effect, easing the symptoms of the disease and helping to preserve vision.
In most cases, the effect of laser correction lasts from 1 to 5 years. In order to keep glaucoma under control, some patients need only a single laser exposure, while others, along with the laser, need additional medications that lower intraocular pressure.
If necessary, several years after the initial correction, the procedure can be repeated. However, over time, with repeated use of the laser, its action eventually loses its effectiveness.
For this reason, some doctors only expose half of the eye tissue to laser treatment during the initial treatment, in order to achieve a good effect when the procedure is repeated.
It happens that even the first procedure of trabeculoplasty may not have the expected effect. Then the chances of success of repeated treatment are negligible. In the case of unsuccessful correction of glaucoma by SLT, doctors usually prescribe drug therapy or more serious surgery.