Glaucoma can occur in any age. It is very possible at birth (infantile Glaucoma) and it may develop at any time during life. However, the rates of primary Glaucoma, particularly open-angle Glaucoma, increase with advancing age.
According to the World Health Organization, Glaucoma is the third largest cause of blindness worldwide. It is responsible for blindness in 5.2 million people. More than 80 per cent of the blind and suspect cases of Glaucoma live in the developing world. Prevalence studies in developing nations suggest that Glaucoma is responsible for 14 percent to 18 percent of all blindness.
Open-angle Glaucoma appears to be a more aggressive disease in blacks. A prevalence study in Nigeria; the most populated black nation in the world, revealed that Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness, accounting for 19.4% of the blindness.
About 60%-70% of Glaucoma in the world is heredity in origin. This group falls into primary open-angle type. There is a higher prevalence of open-angle Glaucoma in relatives of Glaucoma patients. While the exact pattern of inheritance is not established, close relatives of Glaucoma patients have an increased risk of developing Glaucoma 5-6 times the general population.
Apart from genetic inheritance, other factors that can predispose Glaucoma are Myopia, Diabetes Mellitus, Retinal Vein Occlusion, Hypertension, Intraocular Tumors, Cataract, Accidental and Surgical Trauma and Inflammations in the eye.
MANAGEMENT OF GLAUCOMA
Current accepted management of Glaucoma is to control intraocular pressure and lower it to a level at which damage to the optic nerve and retina is stopped.
Medical and surgical management can lower intraocular pressure and stop progression of peripheral visual field loss.
Primary open-angle Glaucoma may be managed both medically and surgically. Primary angle-closure Glaucoma is usually managed by surgical intervention after controlling the pain and elevated intraocular pressure by medical means.
Infantile Glaucoma requires immediate medical and surgical management in early life to prevent blindness.
Medical management is the more conservative method of managing Glaucoma because it is a chronic disease that medications do not cure. Several conditions must be met for medical management to be effective which include check up at regular intervals.
Early diagnosis plays a very important role in the prevention of blindness from Glaucoma. Relative of Glaucoma patient should present themselves for Glaucoma screening at least two times every year.
People that are suffering from conditions that predispose Glaucoma should equally go for eye check up at least twice yearly