The “silent thief of sight” as glaucoma is often referred to has been a topic of much medical research. The reason this eye condition is called this is because it can cause irreparable harm to the eye and eventually cause vision loss. The disease itself is stealthy in more ways than one.
Researchers today still do not know what, in most cases, causes glaucoma despite the fact that it has been around since antiquity.
Even though there are treatments to delay vision loss these days, glaucoma is still a leading cause of blindness all over the world, and there is no cure.
What is glaucoma?
“Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve, a cable at the back of each eye that connects it to the brain”, medical experts explain. More than 60 million people worldwide are affected by it.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form and the most mysterious form of the disease, but there are many other forms as well.
Is there any progress in solving this mystery?
Unfortunately, primary open-angle glaucoma remains a black box. However, researchers are doing their best to investigate the underlying causes, hoping the discovery of a cause will lead to new, more effective treatments. Hopefully, if all the research goes well there may be even preventive therapies for glaucoma.
Glaucoma is linked to an increase in eye pressure, or intraocular pressure. When combined with other factors the unique anatomy of the eye can cause a rise in eye pressure. This can also cause some types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is more common than angle-closure glaucoma, and with it there are no clear signs of blockage within the eye’s drainage system, and it also takes a more gradual course.
Yet, what has been concluded from the extensive research is that 50 to 80 percent of people with open-angle glaucoma have eye pressure that is higher than average. But many people never develop glaucoma even though they have high eye pressure.
Besides high eye pressure, there are other risk factors for open-angle glaucoma. These may provide some clues about what causes glaucoma. For instance, age is a clear risk factor. Even though rare among Americans under age 50, open-angle glaucoma affects nearly eight percent of Americans over 80.
Our genetic heritage plays a huge role in our (not) getting glaucoma.
Compared to whites, open-angle glaucoma is about five times more common among Mexican Americans and African Americans. It also has a more rapid course in African Americans. Family history also has a strong influence. A person is much more likely (even 10 times more) to get glaucoma if an identical twin has it, or even a sibling or a parent.
Research managed to establish that, when it comes to open-angle glaucoma, it can be passed from parent to child due to defects within a single gene. Even before age 50, having such a gene defect is said to be able to cause early onset glaucoma.
Because of the research, and resulting discoveries, people with early-onset glaucoma can now be helped to determine the risk that their children will inherit the disease through series of genetic tests.
Unfortunately, it is not common for primary open-angle glaucoma to be traced to a single cause. In the vast majority of cases, and varying from person to person, the risk of the disease can be influenced by many small genetic differences.
Alone, a single gene probably has a small impact on glaucoma risk because it is established that they only “react” when a bunch of them are “attacking” together.
Marijuana as a cure for glaucoma?
Marijuana is absolutely not a cure for glaucoma, neither are other cannabis products.
What’s worse, all of those trying to cure glaucoma with weed instead of prescribed glaucoma medication should know that they’re wasting precious time. Not only will they continue to lose vision, but the loss will be irreversible. Instead, opting for the right glaucoma treatment is the best thing a patient can do for themselves.
For anyone with the disease it’s best to consult with a doctor about the medication they should be taking, and forget about alternative medicine as a cure for their problem.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising at the local gym and preparing healthy meals for her family.