Can Vision Loss From Glaucoma Be Regained?
Glaucoma is a slowly progressive, chronic disease which remains asymptomatic till the end stages. In glaucoma, the nerve of the eye that connects the eye to the brain (called the optic nerve) gets damaged due to a mechanism related to eye pressure, which is usually increased. Sadly, vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible, and makes it one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide.
Is vision loss from glaucoma never regained?
Vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored. This is why there is a great emphasis on regular, comprehensive eye examinations to pick up the disease in its early stages, so damage to vision can be halted.
Even though the vision lost from glaucoma cannot be regained, a diagnosis of glaucoma is not cause for despair.
Today, if the disease is diagnosed on time, and managed properly, almost all patients retain useful vision throughout their life.
Glaucoma treatment, which includes eye drops, lasers and surgery is effective in preserving the remaining vision even if it cannot restore the vision already lost. This is why you must follow your eye doctor’s recommendations with great care, as the vision lost from glaucoma cannot be regained despite all our best efforts.
Why is glaucoma diagnosis and management so difficult?
It is not that glaucoma is a difficult disease to manage, there are several brilliant glaucoma specialists in Delhi- NCR itself, who are more than equipped to handle the most complicated and advanced stage of glaucoma.
Glaucoma diagnosis is difficult only because it does not have symptoms. It can only be detected by a routine eye examination, which most people forget to schedule. And sometimes, even when they are recommended tests for screening for glaucoma, some people refuse the tests because they are not experiencing any difficulties, forgetting that glaucoma has no symptoms in the first place!
In fact, the saddest part of managing glaucoma is that even after a definite diagnosis, patients tend to be causal about the recommended treatment, often forgetting their drops or stopping them without discussing it with their eye doctor
All of these cause major problems as till the disease is diagnosed, treatment cannot begin and often, when glaucoma is diagnosed and treatment prescribed, it’s usually too late.
Can glaucoma cause complete loss of vision?
Glaucoma is called the silent thief of the night, or kala motia, which emphasizes two of its most potent characteristics:
It is silent, that is, has no symptoms, so you are not aware of the damage caused
Its kala or dark side is that it causes irreversible blindness.
Despite medicine and technology making progress we don’t yet have a way to permanently regain vision that has been lost from glaucoma.
The good news currently is that we can slow down and even stop the progression of the disease with treatment. This is why it is critical that glaucoma is diagnosed early and effective treatment of glaucoma is initiated and continued lifelong.
In fact, at the time of writing this article, a number of new therapies in glaucoma are under evaluation and quite a few of them are in the process of testing on human beings. Some of these are directed at preventing retinal ganglion cell and optic nerve degeneration, called “neuroprotection,” while others at aim to grow the retinal ganglion cell axons down the optic nerve towards the brain, termed “regeneration”.
The former would limit further loss of vision while the latter aims to restore the vision lost due to glaucoma.
What are critical facts about loss of vision from glaucoma?
Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be regained.
Vision loss from glaucoma can be stopped, or slowed down with early and effective treatment.
Not everyone diagnosed from glaucoma goes blind, especially if they are under supervised medical care.
Newer treatments which may potentially restore vision loss due to glaucoma are being developed, so hope is on the horizon.
Prevention is better than cure, is especially true for glaucoma. So do not ignore your regular, annual eye examination.