The treatment of Chronic Glaucoma

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Glaucoma, which according to recent scientific studies affects more than 55 million people worldwide and is one of the main causes of visual impairment, is a chronic and degenerative eye disease that gradually, slowly and severely damages the optic nerve causing dangerous alterations in visual field perception. Illustrating the latest frontiers in the treatment of this degenerative disease is Prof. Stefano Miglior, President of the Italian Association for the Study of Glaucoma (AISG).

by Roberta Imbimbo

Prof. Miglior, what is Chronic Glaucoma?

Chronic Glaucoma is a degenerative disease of the optic nerve, with a slow and progressive course, generally associated with increased eye pressure. If not treated promptly and effectively, the progressive degeneration of the optic nerve causes an inexorable and irreversible decrease in the extent of the visual field, resulting in more or less total blindness in the most severe and neglected cases.

What symptoms does it manifest itself with?

Chronic Glaucoma is a disease that unfortunately evolves without symptoms. Only in the advanced stages, when the visual field is severely reduced, does the patient perceive that he or she has visual disturbances. Early diagnosis is therefore of fundamental importance as it allows the disease to be detected early, when the optic nerve lesions are still minimal and the visual field and vision have not been completely compromised, and thus when it is still possible to manage it adequately and effectively, avoiding the progressive onset of symptoms.  It is advisable to have regular eye check-ups (at least once a year after the age of 40 and for patients with a family history).

How is Chronic Glaucoma treated today?

A diagnosis of Chronic Glaucoma cannot go without starting a treatment aimed at reducing intraocular pressure levels. Today, a large number of patients can be treated effectively with special pharmacological aids. However, when local medical therapy is no longer effective in reducing intraocular pressure and/or halting disease progression, laser procedures can be used, which are often effective but not definitive. In eyes that do not respond adequately to either local medical or laser therapy, or in the presence of an unstoppable worsening of the visual field, surgery is necessarily resorted to in order to create a drastic reduction in intraocular pressure. Today there are various surgical techniques, more or less invasive but all highly promising and safe, whose aim is to halt the progression of the disease by creating an additional pathway for the outflow of aqueous humour.

You are President of the Italian Association for the Study of Glaucoma: what are the aims of the society?

Founded way back in 1984, the AISG aims to disseminate scientific knowledge on Glaucoma (studying its causes, of course), to stimulate scientific and clinical research in Italy, to discover revolutionary new therapies, to refine surgical techniques to make them ever more minimally invasive and safe, but above all to improve the quality of life of people affected by this highly disabling disease.

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