The recent treatment of the acute-angle closure glaucoma of the Gov. David Paterson has drawn attention of the people. The incident seemed to draw the mass attention to the importance of the early detection and treatment of this disease. Glaucoma, if detected at the early stage, can be treated.
In case of David Paterson, he was suffering from the acute angle-closure glaucoma, which causes severe pain as one of its symptoms. However, the more common types of glaucoma usually cause no symptoms, which is why they are so dangerous.
Glaucoma, often referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” refers to a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, and over time, can lead to loss of vision and it causes no pain. Only about 10 percent of the population with glaucoma has acute-angle closure. Symptoms occur suddenly and can include blurry vision, halos around lights, intense eye pain, nausea and vomiting.
Open-angle glaucoma is much more common, as nearly 90 percent of glaucomas in the United States belong to this category. Open-angle glaucoma (also called chronic open-angle or primary open-angle) is the most common type of glaucoma. With this type, even though the anterior structures of the eye appear normal, aqueous fluid builds within the anterior chamber, causing intraocular pressure to become elevated. Left untreated, this may result in permanent damage of the optic nerve and retina.
Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, from babies to senior citizens. Older people are at higher risk, but babies can be born with glaucoma. Approximately one out of every 10,000 babies born in the United States is born with glaucoma. Approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9 to 12 percent of all cases of blindness in the United States. About 2 percent of the population ages 40 to 50 and 8 percent over age 70 have elevated intraocular pressure.
Most patients with glaucoma require only medication to control eye pressure. Sometimes, several medications that complement each other are necessary to reduce the pressure adequately. Surgery is indicated when medical treatment fails to lower the pressure satisfactorily.