Dia Mundial del Glaucoma - 12 de Marzo



Dr José Antonio Saavedra Pazos

Co-Director, Centro de Ojos de La Coruña




What is glaucoma?

 It is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve, where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain.

If left untreated, most cases progress, with almost no symptoms for the patient, leading to a gradual vision loss and even irreversible blindness. It is for that lack of alarm symptoms that it is known as the "silent blindness" or "thief of sight".

  • Is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide after cataract (which as we know is reversible), and the leading cause of irreversible blindness. It causes 12.5% 15% of blindness
  • 500,000 cases of glaucoma in Spain and 70,000 in Galicia
  • It is estimated that causes blindness of more than 6 million people in the world and it is thought that this number will increase linked with the life expectancy and reach 11.2 million blind people in 2020.
  • Because of this lack of symptoms, more than 50% of glaucoma in developed countries remain undiagnosed, ie the patient is unaware of having the disease. This number increases to 90%, if we talk about developing countries.

Several types of glaucoma exists. Some may occur as a complication of other visual disorders (secondary glaucoma) but the vast majority are primary, ie ultimate cause unkown and are not related to any other visual disease.

The most important risk factor in most glaucomas, is an increase in intraocular pressure, although even people with normal blood pressure can suffer it. Intraocular pressure is considered, therefore, the main risk factor of disease. There are other risk factors such as race, family history, high myopia and age.

Some forms of glaucoma occur even at birth (congenital) or even during childhood or adolescence (juvenile); in most cases, however, glaucoma occurs in adults, after the fourth decade of life, and its frequency is gradually increased with age.

The most common type of adult glaucoma is the primary chronic open-angle glaucoma, the most common in Caucasians and blacks, and closed-angle glaucoma, which is the most common in the Asian race. The closed-angle glaucoma may occur chronically and acutely, the latter with symptoms of pain and rapid vision loss (would be the exception to the rest of glaucoma, which, as we said, are asymptomatic until later stages, when the patient has lost a lot of vision).

Diagnostics techniques (computerized campimetry, and study of the fiber layer and optic nerve ganglion cells by optical coherence tomography) allow for early diagnosis.
There is no cure for glaucoma and vision loss is irreversible. However Medication (hypotensive eyedrops), laser, or surgery can slow or halt its progression. That's why early detection is essential to prevent progression to a final visual loss and consequent disability.
Therefore we recommend an annual eye examinations, including measurement of eyestrain and exploration of the optic nerve, for anyone over 40 years, especially those with a family history of glaucoma or blindness.
Because of all these characteristics of glaucoma (lack of symptoms, cause irreversible blindness, underdiagnosis (only 50% know they have it), lack of knowledge and information by the population, in recent years, many global associations have tried to improve people knowledge through health campaigns.
The sooner it is diagnosed and the more we lower the intraocular pressure, the better chance to avoid further loss of vision that would be irreversible.

Canto antes diagnostíquese e canto máis baixemos a presión intraocular evitaremos unha maior perda de visión que senón xa será irreversible.


Imagen1 Imagen2
Normal visión The same scene viewed by a person with glaucoma.

Thus, in recent years and the result of the collaboration of the World Glaucoma Patient Association and the World Glaucoma Association, the idea of dedicating, worldwide, one day a year to promote all kinds of actions in order to increase the level of awareness of the disease (lectures, open days in the consultations for taking eyestrain, information in the media, etc.) was born: The World Glaucoma Day. This year is the World Glaucoma Day on Saturday March 12 but a consensus has been reached to devote the entire week prior to the promotion of education about the disease, from Monday 7 to Saturday 12 March itself.

Within this context, on Wednesday March 9 at 19:30 pm a conference about the glaucoma disease and the ONCE's Servicio de Rehabilitación Intergral de Baja Visión, will be held in the hall of the Territorial Delegation of ONCE, La Coruna (Canton Grande 3) in collaboration with the Centro de Ojos de La Coruna and the Club de Leones of Corunna. During this conference the most important aspects of the disease will be addressed.

Dr José Antonio Saavedra Pazos. Ophthalmologist Centro de Ojos de La Corunna and Territorial Delegation of ONCE

Angeles Fernández de Usera e Laura Salvador, Técnicos de Rehabilitación Básica y Visual of ONCE