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Everything you need to know about glaucoma: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention


Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in our country. It is believed that 2-3 per cent of the population over 40 have glaucoma, while among those over 70 15-20 per cent are affected (source: NHI.no, 2021). This article aims to provide an insight into what glaucoma is, possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and preventive measures.



What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a collective term for a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve is weakened and leads to a gradual loss of the field of vision. The name has its roots far back in time and probably arose because the iris in advanced cases acquired a green tint. Glaucoma is often caused by increased pressure inside the eye, but there are also cases where people develop the condition with normal eye pressure. This says something about the complexity and variation of this disease.




 


Causes and risk factors


Why glaucoma occurs is unclear. It may have something to do with heredity and how the metabolism works in the eye.


On the inside of the iris (iris) in what is called the posterior chamber, the eye fluid is produced. This fluid moves out through the pupil to the anterior chamber between the iris and the cornea. Where the iris and cornea meet at the edge of the eye, the fluid is absorbed into a network of small veins (the trabecular meshwork).


Sometimes it can become more difficult for the liquid to pass through this network, and then the pressure in the eye can increase. Normally, there is a balance between the production and drainage of eye fluid, and the pressure is kept normal. But if the drain becomes blocked, the pressure inside the eye can rise.


The part of the eye that is most sensitive to high pressure is the optic nerve at the back of the eye, also called the papilla. Different people have different sensitivity to pressure, and it is not possible to determine a normal pressure value that applies to everyone. Sometimes damage to the optic nerve can occur even if the eye pressure is not too high.

There are also other factors that can increase the chance of getting glaucoma. Some examples include heredity, age, severe myopia, diabetes, eye injuries, inflammation of the iris, long-term use of cortisone, or problems with blood pressure.


When diagnosing and treating glaucoma, it is important to consider these risk factors. In particular, it is necessary to look at heredity, and it is recommended to check close family members of people who already have glaucoma.


Symptoms, diagnosis and prevention

In the beginning, glaucoma is often without symptoms, which makes early detection of the disease challenging. Most cases are discovered incidentally during routine eye examinations. Symptoms can include gradual vision loss, peripheral visual field loss and even "tunnel vision" in advanced cases.


Diagnosing glaucoma usually involves measuring eye pressure and assessing the optic nerve and visual field.


Early detection of the eye disease can slow its progression. It is therefore important to have regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist/optician to detect disease as early as possible.


Conventional treatment methods

Treatment of glaucoma aims to lower the eye pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve. This can be achieved through medication, laser treatment or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and individual patient needs. It is important to follow the ophthalmologist's recommendations carefully and regularly monitor your vision to ensure the best possible result.


Alternative treatment methods

In addition to conventional medical treatment, many people are exploring complementary approaches such as acupuncture and microcurrent stimulation to relieve symptoms and improve eye health.


Acupuncture affects blood circulation. A number of studies done in China on acupuncture and glaucoma show that acupuncture has an effect. Acupuncture can help regulate the production of eye fluid in the anterior chamber by influencing and improving the blood circulation in and around the eye, thereby reducing the pressure. Another effect of acupuncture is an increased supply of oxygen and other nutrients, which in turn reduces the accumulation of waste substances in the eye. You can read more about what acupuncture can help with eye disorders here.


Microcurrent treatment is a good additional treatment to acupuncture for eye disorders. The treatment stimulates microcirculation (blood flow in the very thinnest blood vessels) and increases oxygen uptake and nutrient supply to the eyes, and ensures that waste products are more easily transported out. Microcurrent also has a calming and pain-relieving effect. The treatment can easily be carried out at home with your own MicroStim device.


A patient history

Have been given permission to share the story of an eye patient. The name is anonymised.

Harald, at the time of writing an 80-year-old man, was diagnosed with glaucoma when he was 72 and treatment with eye drops was started to keep the pressure in check.

When Harald contacted me 2 years ago, the pressure was still stable at 15, but he had noticed that his vision had deteriorated. He wondered if there was anything to do besides eye drops and wanted to explore alternative approaches.


After a thorough survey, we started treatment with acupuncture combined with microcurrent treatment. For the first three weeks, he received 3 treatments per week. For the next two weeks, he received 2 treatments per week. After 5 weeks, we switched to treatment every 14 days. After 3 months of treatment, he gave feedback that he could see more clearly. He continued with follow-up treatments every 14 days and after 6 months he had a check-up with the ophthalmologist. The pressure had then come down to 13 and the field of vision had improved. The ophthalmologist thought this was an exciting development. Harald now comes for treatment once every 3 weeks to keep his condition stable.


Summary

In conclusion, we would like to emphasize the importance of seeking regular eye examinations for the early detection of glaucoma. As we have seen, this eye disease often has no obvious symptoms at first, and early diagnosis can be crucial in slowing down the progression and preserving vision.


The treatment methods, both conventional and alternative, offer hope and possibilities for dealing with glaucoma in different ways. It is also inspiring to see how a combination of acupuncture and microcurrent treatment has contributed to improvement in a patient's history, even with stable eye pressure.


For those who already have glaucoma in the family, or who have other risk factors, it is particularly important to be proactive with regular eye examinations and discuss the risks with healthcare professionals. This can be crucial for early intervention and optimal management of the disease.



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