Glaucoma represents a group of diseases defined by a characteristic optic neuropathy (optic nerve disease), which is consistent with excavation and weakening of both optic disc and connective tissue as well as with eventual development of distinct patterns of visual impairment. Although high intraocular pressure (IOP) is one of the main risk factors, its presence or absence does not play a mandatory role in defining the disease. This happens because, even if progressive changes in visual field and degeneration of optical nerve are frequently associated to IOP increasing, it remains among the average range in some glaucoma patients. Therefore, in most cases, it is presumed that IOP is very high for the accurate functioning of the optical nerve’s axon of the patient and that IOP reduction will stabilise the damage.

There are several glaucoma types reflecting multiple pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease, with this having impact in the obvious need of follow-up and customised study for each patient; despite final goal of treatment being transversal (avoid damage and optical atrophy) to every type of glaucoma, the method to achieve it may demand particular therapeutic on a case-by-case basis. It may be acute or chronic according to its way of manifesting: the first one comes all of a sudden and causes blurry vision, nausea and vomiting, pain and reddening of the eye as well as intense frontal cephalea (headache), usually motivating an emergency appointment due to the severity of complaints; the chronic type (being much more common) has a slowly progression and is not painful, only presenting symptoms at a very advanced stage of the disease, when there is already a significant loss of visual field amplitude.

Age, family history, high myopia, arterial hypertension and diabetes are all factors of risk. Despite being a chronic and incurable disease, it may be controlled using specific medicines that normalise IOP, thus preventing its progression. Solutions may also include laser treatment or surgery depending on the type and stage.

Glaucoma is one of the main blindness causes in Western World adults. PREVENTION and EARLY diagnose in routine check-ups are fundamental.

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