Our vision is easy to take for granted. How often throughout the day do we use our eyesight in profound ways without realizing it? Whether it's seeing an oncoming car run a red light or seeing our children or grandchildren smile at us, the ability to see affects our daily lives in serious, if subtle, ways. That's why it's important to address diseases that negatively affect our eyesight—diseases like glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a blanket term for a number of diseases that cause harm to the optic nerve. Our eyes are powerful organs, but factors such as an imbalance in fluid pressure within the anterior chamber at the front of the eye can cause serious strain and damage, leaving vital eye functions to suffer.
While glaucoma is not curable, there are treatments that can be used to alleviate its symptoms. The standard treatments for glaucoma include daily eye drops, pills, and conventional or laser surgery. Each glaucoma treatment has its benefits, but there are things to be mindful of with each as well. Eye drops and pills, for example, may interact with other medications and must be taken daily even in the absence of symptoms; additionally, there may be some irritation when using the drops. Laser surgery is relatively hassle free, although its effects are known to wear off over time, and conventional surgery has been linked to additional vision problems.
But the field of glaucoma treatment is constantly evolving. At the University of Utah, researchers are working on both improvements to existing treatments and altogether new techniques. Soon, daily drops or pills will be replaced with six-month inserts or shots. Exciting as those developments may be (and they are certainly improvements upon existing treatment options), the most exciting advancements involve retinal ganglion cells.
Retinal ganglion cells are neurons that transmit information from the eye's photosensitive cells, known as rods and cones. They form a key component of the process by which light stimuli perceived by our eye organs get transmitted into electrical impulses, sent to our brain, and translated into visual images—in other words, the sight process. Unfortunately, when a person suffers from glaucoma, the retinal ganglion cells are affected most of all. By identifying this, however, researchers now have a distinct direction to focus their research: slowing or stopping the damage suffered by retinal ganglion cells, and, perhaps, reversing damage that has already occurred. This may lead to more effective treatments—or even a cure.
Talk to a company such as Coastal Eye Care to learn more.