Glaucoma or the "green star" is still a common cause of blindness in Germany. Anyone over the age of 40 should have their intraocular pressure checked every two years. People with additional risk factors should go to the examination every year. Because: Only the regular examination at the ophthalmologist detects the disease on time.
Glaucoma: who is affected?
Green cataract (glaucoma) is not a rare disease: there are approximately 1 million glaucoma patients in Germany, but only 600, 000 are diagnosed and treated accordingly. One fourth of all blind people in Germany are blinded by glaucoma.
The incidence increases with age: while only about one percent of the 40-year-olds are affected, 18 percent of the 85-year-olds suffer from it.
Development of glaucoma
Glaucoma refers to a variety of eye diseases, which - if they are not recognized and treated in time - lead to a sad result: they destroy the optic nerve. The fatal: Since the glaucoma usually causes no discomfort, the person concerned does not notice the disease initially. A certain pressure inside the eye is necessary for the eye to retain its spherical shape.
The so-called aqueous humor is responsible for maintaining the pressure. However, if the discharge of the aqueous humor is obstructed, the aqueous humor can no longer flow away - the intraocular pressure rises. By the pressure on the sensitive fibers of the optic nerve this gradually dies off.
Consequences of increased intraocular pressure
The result of too high pressure inside the eyes are visual field defects, in the long run blindness threatens. In the case of failures or limitations of the visual field, one simply no longer perceives certain areas - they are like a blind spot. However, the field of vision is at least as important for our orientation, especially on the road, as central vision.
The condition of the optic nerve is also influenced by the blood circulation. It has long been suspected that, in addition to eye pressure, pathological disturbances of blood flow are also responsible for glaucoma. These make themselves felt outside the eye as chronically cold feet and cold hands.
Early detection of glaucoma
Only a glaucoma screening examination at the ophthalmologist detects the disease in the early stages. Optic nerve damage is crucial for the diagnosis of "green star".
These are the risk factors:
- Age over 40 years
- First degree relatives with glaucoma because the glaucoma system is hereditary
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart failure, high or low blood pressure
The benefit of early detection of glaucoma: If detected early, the eyesight can be rescued by drug treatment. The early detection of glaucoma is painless and not burdensome, costs the patient about 16 euros - the statutory health insurance companies do not cover the costs of early detection. Nevertheless, an investment worth the health.
Diagnosis of glaucoma
The ophthalmologist first makes a detailed medical history and examines possible risk factors. He examines the fundus and measures the intraocular pressure after stunning with a local anesthetic. If a glaucoma is suspected, then the field of vision is determined. The measurement of the visual field gives the ophthalmologist accurate information about the course of the glaucoma disease.
Treatment of glaucoma
Well over nine percent of glaucoma patients can be treated with eye drops. The goal of lowering intraocular pressure can be achieved in two ways:
- brake the production of the aqueous humor or
- increase the outflow of aqueous humor.
The most important thing is the regular use of the medication according to the instructions of the ophthalmologist. Almost none of the early recognized glaucoma patients go blind. Medically untreatable patients may be treated with laser therapy or surgery. Whether a patient with elevated intraocular pressure should receive glaucoma prophylaxis must be decided on a case-by-case basis. One study showed that 10 percent of non-treated patients developed glaucoma in five years.