Honor glaucoma awareness month by learning about glaucoma, signs and symptoms of glaucoma, and the role glaucoma has in pediatric retinoblastoma. Encourage your loved ones to be screened for glaucoma, especially if they display certain risk factors for developing the disease. By raising awareness for glaucoma, health complications such as
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month in the United States. According to the National Eye Institute, more than four million Americans have glaucoma. Alarmingly, nearly half of these glaucoma patients are not aware of their condition. If left undiagnosed and untreated, glaucoma can destroy a patient’s vision and cause total blindness. For this reason, January’s Glaucoma Awareness Month is dedicated to educating Americans and urging them to see their eye doctor for a comprehensive glaucoma screening. The sooner glaucoma is diagnosed, the more positive the outcome for patients.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the main nerve that transmits sight information from the eye’s retina to the brain. This information is then interpreted into vision. When the optic nerve is damaged from glaucoma, the patient will experience vision loss. If the condition goes untreated, total blindness may occur within a few years.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Both types of glaucoma are generally characterized by intraocular pressure, or increased pressure within the eye. Symptoms may differ depending on the type of glaucoma the patient has. In many cases, glaucoma patients may not experience any symptoms until the condition has progressed.
Open-angle glaucoma is also referred to as wide-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common glaucoma type, accounting for roughly 90 percent of glaucoma cases. In this type of glaucoma, the eye structures may appear normal. However, trabecular meshwork occurs. Trabecular meshwork causes an improper flow of fluid through the eye’s drain. This leads to intraocular pressure.
Angle-closure glaucoma is also referred to as chronic angle-closure or acute glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma accounts for roughly 10 percent of glaucoma cases. Angle-closure glaucoma is more associated with a sudden buildup of intraocular pressure. Intraocular pressure often occurs due to an unusually narrow angle between the cornea and the iris. This is where the eye’s drainage channel is located.
Glaucoma and Retinoblastoma
When inherited, glaucoma most often shows symptoms in patients older than 40. However, glaucoma may also result as a complication of pediatric retinoblastoma. Children who develop retinoblastoma glaucoma experience an increased risk of the cancer spreading outside of the eye. For this reason, glaucoma awareness is crucial in pediatric retinoblastoma patients. Those with a family history of glaucoma are especially urged to ask their eye doctor for a comprehensive glaucoma screening.
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"January is Glaucoma Awareness Month." National Eye Institute. National Institutes of Health. Web. 14 Jan 2014. <https://www.nei.nih.gov/news/briefs/glaucoma_awareness.asp>.
Sueke, Henri, and William Newman. "A Delayed Presentation of Congenital Glaucoma." Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 48.6 (2012): 541. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.