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Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, also known as an optic neuropathy, and is classically associated with increased intraocular pressure. Left untreated, this condition can lead to irreversible blindness and is the world’s number two cause of the permanent loss of vison after the number one cause, cataracts.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases and is generally characterized as either open-angle or angle-closure.

Open-Angle Glaucoma: is an optic neuropathy associated with a peripheral visual field loss, usually progressive in nature, then followed by central field loss. Often there is an elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP).

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Angle-Closure Glaucoma: the anterior chamber angle is either closed or its opening is significantly reduced. The aqueous humor produced by the eye cant drain properly resulting in an overload of fluid contributing to increased pressure in the eye. The increased pressure leads to damage to the optic nerve.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Glaucoma Risk Factors:

  • Age
  • Race (three times higher in black patients than white)
  • Hypertension
  • Family History
  • Diabetes

Diagnosis of Glaucoma

The diagnosis of glaucoma is made by examining the fundus of the eye looking for signs of optic nerve disease, detecting increased intraocular pressure, and visual field testing. The initial diagnosis should be confirmed by a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist in most cases.

Treatment of Glaucoma:

The treatment is usually comprised of the administration of drops in the home, either prostaglandins or beta blockers. Laser therapy can also be used in some cases.

Which Treatment is Best for Me?

Expert eye physicians usually recommend starting treatment with eye drops. If they are not an option, laser therapy can be performed as an outpatient procedure often eliminating the need for daily drops. Your family doctor can talk to you about your options and help you decide.

If eye drops are chosen, its important to follow the directions and use them every day as they can prevent irreversible blindness. You will also need regular follow up appointments with your eye doctor who will monitor your progress and help anticipate any future needs.