Glaucoma is a medical condition of the eyes that is often associated with an increase in the intraocular pressure in the eyes. This usually leads to the damage of the optic nerve, and subsequently lead to the loss of vision, and in some cases blindness. Glaucoma can be passed on from generation to generation. So if a relative of yours has suffered from glaucoma, you have an increased chance of having this eye abnormality. The increased pressure in the eyes is capable of damaging the optic nerve, and eventually leading to vision loss, if uncontrolled. In addition, the majority of people with glaucoma do not show any symptoms initially, they’d only show symptoms when the condition is at its later stages. This is why people who have glaucoma patients in their family, are advised to go for a regular checkup, especially when they’re over 40 years. In addition to this, diabetic patients have increased chances of having this condition. There are two types of glaucoma, these are open-angle glaucoma and the closed angle glaucoma. Glaucoma may present with symptoms such as pain in the eyes, blurred vision, nausea, eye redness, and eventually loss of vision if the disease is not well treated. Stem cells are cells that are capable of differentiating into another type of cells can be used in the treatment of this medical condition.
How Common Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness. According to statistics, about 3 million people in the United States are affected by glaucoma. In fact, the majority of people affected by this disease might not know that they have the disease. This is because glaucoma is usually asymptomatic initially, until much later after the disease progresses.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs as a result of the buildup of intraocular pressure; high liquid pressure in the eyes. This occurs when the fluid in the anterior chamber of the eyes doesn’t flow the way it should. This fluid is also referred to as the aqueous humor. The fluid usually circulates through a channel in the eyes. However, this channel becomes blocked, due to some abnormal reasons, leading to the accumulation of fluid in the eyes. This is the most predominant risk factor in most cases of glaucoma, especially in open-angle glaucoma. Cases with increased intraocular pressure account for about half of all glaucoma cases. On the other hand, closed angle glaucoma is responsible for about 10% of all glaucoma cases in America, but it represents about half of all glaucoma occurrences in East Asian countries.
Dietary: It has been observed that caffeine, is capable of increasing the intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. However, this has not been recorded in individuals with normal eye vision.
Heredity: It has been proven that people who have a relative that has suffered, or suffering from glaucoma, have an increased risk of having glaucoma. As an illustration, the probability of having glaucoma, when a sibling has it, is usually 3 to 4 times when a relative doesn’t have it.
Ethnicity: Some ethnic groups are more prone to having glaucoma as compared to others. For example, people from East Asia have increased chances of developing angle-closure glaucoma, because of their shallower anterior chamber depths.
Others: There are other factors that could cause glaucoma. Some of them include diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2. If not well managed, the patient might develop diabetic retinopathy. Also, the prolonged use of steroids can also cause glaucoma, especially when used for the treatment of chronic diseases
What Are The Types Of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a general term for any condition that causes the damage to the optic nerve, and that can eventually lead to vision loss. The main cause of open-angle glaucoma is an increased intraocular pressure, which can be due to many reasons, such as obstruction of the draining channels, or the abnormally small angle between the cornea and the iris. Glaucoma can be divided into two, these are
- Open-angle glaucoma: Open-angle glaucoma is a condition in which there is a high intraocular pressure in the eyes. This is usually due to the blockage of the drainage channels, which subsequently leads to the build of pressure in the eyes. This high pressure leads to the damage of the optic nerve and presents as a progressive loss of vision. This usually starts with the loss of peripheral vision, until it gradually progresses to the complete loss of vision. It’s the most predominant type of glaucoma.
- Closed-angle glaucoma: Also known as narrow-angle glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, there is a contact between the iris and the trabecular meshwork, that obstructs the flow of fluid from the anterior chamber of the eyes. The contact between the two parts of the eye may progressively damage the draining ability of the meshwork, till it stops or reduces the rate at which it produces aqueous humor. As compared to open-angle glaucoma, the onset of this condition is sudden, and it’s associated with other symptoms such as pain. This condition should be treated as an emergency
- Normal tension glaucoma: This is a condition in which the optic nerve is impaired even though their intraocular pressure is normal.
- Secondary glaucoma: This is a condition in which the glaucoma is caused by another disease, medication or trauma. These conditions increase the pressure within the eyes, and leads to the damage of the optic nerve, eventually leading to the loss of vision, if not well managed. Examples of drugs that can lead to secondary glaucoma are steroids
What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma?
A large percentage of people affected by glaucoma do not have any symptoms initially, however, the initial signs include loss of peripheral vision. This can continue, without the individual actually noticing, until late in the disease. People who have relatives that have suffered from the disease should regularly check their eyes with an eye specialist. Common symptoms of glaucoma include
- Loss of vision
- Halos around light
- Pain in the eyes
- Tunnel vision
- Hazy eyes
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
Open-angle glaucoma can be treated by using eye drops. Laser surgery can also be used for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma. Conventional surgeries are used for the treatment of those with congenital glaucoma.
Stem Cell Therapy Of Glaucoma
Stem cells are cells that are capable of differentiating into another type of cells. They are derived from sources such as bone marrow, adipose tissue and so on. These cells have the ability to reduce the process of vision loss, due to glaucoma, and also protect the optic nerve from damage. However, research is ongoing, on how to specifically differentiate the ocular tissues that are destroyed in glaucoma.
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Li, Y., Li, D., Ying, X., Khaw, P. and Raisman, G. (2015). An energy theory of glaucoma. Glia, 63(9), pp.1537-1552.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL