Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the intraocular pressure of the eyes is elevated and causing a damage to the optic nerve, which eventually would lead to the loss of vision and total blindness. There are 2 common types of glaucoma, these are open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma tends to develop over gradually, and over a long duration with no pain. On the other hand, closed-angle glaucoma can either present slowly or abruptly. The sudden presentation in closed-angle glaucoma might present with symptoms like eye-pain, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, nausea, vomiting, and loss of vision. There are some factors that increase the risk of developing this condition. Some of them include a family history of glaucoma, hypertension, and elevated pressure in the eyes. Although, it has been observed that some people might have high intraocular pressure, and not develop glaucoma. The mechanism of the development of the diseases in the two types of glaucoma is quite different. For example, the mechanism of open-angle glaucoma has been suggested to be due to the slow movement of the aqueous humor through the trabecular meshwork. On the other hand, the mechanism of the closed-angle glaucoma is due to the blockage of the trabecular meshwork by the iris. Glaucoma can be treated. However, this is best achievable when the patient starts treatment early. Surgery is also an effective method of treating the disease. Stem cell therapy and exosomes are potential ways of treating this disease. 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
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Glaucoma?
The signs and symptoms presented by patients affected by glaucoma depend on the type the patient has.
- Open-angle glaucoma: Patients affected by open-angle glaucoma might not present with any symptoms until they lose a significant portion of their vision.
- Closed-angle glaucoma: Patients with this condition do present with symptoms such as;
- The loss of peripheral vision
- Narrow-angle glaucoma: This is the most painful type of glaucoma. Below are some of the symptoms
- Redness of the eyes
- Dilation of the pupil
- Blurry vision
- Severe throbbing eye pain.
Narrow-Angle glaucoma requires immediate medical attention. Patients might lose their eyesight permanently if the condition is not treated within 6 to 12 hours
- Congenital glaucoma: This type of glaucoma tends to occur in infants and children in their first few years. Some of the symptoms of this disease include
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Spasm of the eyelids
What Causes Glaucoma?
As mentioned earlier, this eye medical condition occurs due to the buildup of intraocular pressure; which means a high liquid pressure in the eyes. This happens 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. Below are some of the factors that can lead to the development of glaucoma;
- Dietary: According to observations, it’s suggested that caffeine is capable of causing the increase in 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 individuals with a family history of 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 the risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma, because of their shallower anterior chamber depths.
- Others: These are the other factors that could lead to the development of glaucoma. Some of these factors include diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2. Especially when it’s not well managed. The affected patient might develop diabetic retinopathy. Also, the chronic use of steroids can also lead to glaucoma, especially when used for the treatment of chronic diseases. The patient might suddenly develop a habit of rubbing their eyes.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
Currently, the goal of glaucoma treatment is to avoid any damage to the nerve and other glaucomatous damage. In addition to this, the visual field and entire quality of the patient’s life has to be maintained with the least adverse effects. This usually involves the right technique of diagnosis, and examinations. The methods used in treating this disease include medication, laser, and surgery.
- Medication: The increased intraocular pressure can be reduced with drugs. Although the drugs might have local and systemic side effects. Examples of this drug include prostaglandin analogs, miotic agents and so on.
- Laser: This can be used to treat open-angle glaucoma. However, this would be a temporary solution.
- Surgery: This is the method used for the patients with congenital glaucoma. This is also a temporary solution, as there is no cure for glaucoma yet.
Just like other diseases, the earlier it’s diagnosed, the better for the patient.
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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THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PEDIATRIC HEMATOLOGY/ONCOLOGY. (1998). Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 20(2), p.183.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL