Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve, optic nerve root and retina. Increased pressure in the eye cause the capillaries to collapse, resulting in damage to the retina and subsequent vision loss. The anterior chamber of the eye contains a clear fluid that flows continuously in and out of the eye. This nourishes the tissues inside the chamber. If the fluid does not flow out of the eye at the proper rate, pressure inside the eye increases, causing damage to the optic nerve and retina. Controlling and maintaining a healthy pressure is essential.
Intraocular Pressure and Glaucoma
Intraocular Pressure is the pressure created by the continual renewal of fluids within the eye. This pressure is increased in glaucoma. Normal intraocular pressure is between 12 and 20 mm Hg. Intra-occular pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, relative to current atmospheric pressure. Individual eyes respond to and require different pressures. Some can tolerate pressures that exceed 20 (ocular tension) and some will experience damage to the optic nerve with lower pressures (low-tension glaucoma).
Primary methods of occluding the outflow
The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. The diameter of the openings of the trabecular meshwork becomes narrowed, increasing the resistance of fluid flow (the drain tube is suddenly reduced so pressure builds up.)
The pressure in the eye depends largely on the flow of aqueous humor into and out of the eye. The rate at which fluid exits from the eye, or outflow, is the most important factor regulating pressure. Glaucoma usually results from a decrease in the outflow. Increased pressure ultimately destroys the optic nerve cells causing blind spots in the field of vision, first in the peripheral, eventually affecting the central vision
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) also called primary or chronic glaucoma affects approximately one percent of people over the age of fifty in the US. Open-angle means that the angle where the iris meets the cornea is as wide and open as it should be. It is the most common type of glaucoma.
In chronic glaucoma, there is a gradual imbalance between the production and removal (resorption) of the fluid in the back part of the eye (with supply exceeding demand). The pressure builds causing intraocular pressure, but there is generally no swelling on the cornea, and no visible abnormality of the trabecular meshwork. Because the patient experiences no symptoms, it often goes undetected, although vision impairment occurs.
In acute angle-closure glaucoma, a less common form of glaucoma, the intraocular pressure rises because the canal into which the fluid in the front part of the eye normally drains is suddenly blocked. The angle between the iris and cornea has a closed or narrow angle. It develops very quickly and has symptoms and damage that are usually very noticeable in a short period of time. This demands immediate medical attention.The usual symptoms are sudden eye pain, a red eye and reduced vision. Immediate treatment is needed to relieve symptoms and to prevent permanent loss of vision.
Normal-Tension Glaucoma (NTG) is called low-tension or normal-pressure glaucoma. In normal-tension glaucoma the optic nerve is damaged even though they have almost normal pressure levels.
Congenital glaucoma occurs in babies when there is incorrect or incomplete development of the eye’s drainage canals during the prenatal period. This is a rare condition that may be inherited. When uncomplicated, microsurgery can often correct the structural defects. Other cases are treated with medication and surgery.
With secondary glaucoma the trabecular meshwork becomes blocked. Various types of debris or scar tissue may cover the meshwork.
Arkansas Acupuncture Center uses a unique form of acupuncture called microacupuncture. Microacupuncture treats vision loss caused by glaucoma and other vision disorders. The treatment helps restore normal blood flow to the retina and optic nerve so that the eye can begin to heal from the damage caused by the disease . Healing allows for more normal cellular repair, or cell regeneration. The microacupuncture treatment will not necessarily reduce pressure so it is essential for patients to continue with their conventional treatment regimen for maintaining normal pressure in the eye. The conventional treatment consists of prescription eye drops or oral medication to control pressure. Thetreatments we perform at the Arkansas Acupuncture Center for glaucoma are similar to the treatment for macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. About a third of the patients coming to the Arkansas Aupuncture Center for eye diseases are receiving microacupuncture for glaucoma.