By Alexa Kaczka
A "wonderful" new glaucoma treatment called canaloplasty could prevent the damage to the eyes caused by glaucoma, a doctor has noted.
Writing in the Orange County Register, Dr David Richardson, of San Gabriel Eye Associates, explained that the new procedure is like inserting a catheter in the Schlemns canal - a natural drainage duct in the white part of the eye.
He described how in glaucoma fluid in the eye has "nowhere to go", meaning the pressure builds up and damages the optic nerve. In canaloplasty, however, the catheter opens the canal.
This is compared to the standard trabeculectomy treatment, which removes part of the eye's trabecular meshwork and adjacent structures to relieve this intraocular pressure.
However, this trabeculectomy procedure is "far from ideal," he notes, and can leave a blister on the surface of the eye even after the healing process has taken place.
The expert also highlighted the importance of eye tests when it comes to catching glaucoma.
Early diagnosis of the condition is vital because, with glaucoma, once the damage to the eye has been done it cannot be reversed, damaging the sight of the individual.
What makes eye tests even more vital is that in its early stages, the condition can be symptomless - one of the reasons it is often dubbed "the silent thief of sight".
Although it is much more common in older people, there are four different types of glaucoma, and it can strike younger individuals too.
Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common type, with around 480,000 people in England believed to suffer from this. It is much more common in older people and develops very slowly - meaning getting frequent eye tests is very important.
Primary angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, is a rare condition which can occur slowly, but sometimes develops rapidly and painfully with a sudden build up of pressure in the eyes.
Meanwhile, developmental glaucoma, while rare, affects new born babies and is present at birth or develops shortly afterwards.
by Martin Burns