describes a group of eye disorders that causes damage to the optic nerve. This degenerative eye disease is one of the leading causes of chronic blindness in the US.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma in the United States.
Open-angle glaucoma can often be controlled well with proper treatment, and most patients who receive treatment will maintain their vision.
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Open-angle glaucoma is caused by increased intraocular pressure. Within the eye, fluid is made and then drained from the eye. If either the fluid is made too quickly (not common) or drains too slowly, then the pressure of the eye can increase, leading to damage to the optic nerve.
This damage to the optic nerve can lead to a decrease in peripheral vision and may eventually cause blindness.
Glaucoma is more common in African American and Hispanic people. Other factors that may increase your chance of getting glaucoma include: Family history of glaucomaGlaucoma in one eye—This increases the risk of developing glaucoma in the other eye.Increased intraocular pressureDiabetesHigh blood pressureInjury to the eyeCertain eye abnormalities, such as congenital defects
Many patients with open-angle glaucoma experience few or no symptoms until the disease has progressed to the very late stages. Other symptoms may include: Loss of peripheral visionTunnel visionBlindness
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include: Eye exam with pupil dilationTonometry
—a test to determine intraocular pressure
Visual field test to determine vision lossSlit lamp examination—the use of a low-power microscope combined with a high-intensity light source, allows a narrow beam that can be focused to examine the front of the eyePhotographs of the optic nerveGonioscopy—to examine the outflow channels of the angleAnalysis of the nerve fiber layer around the optic nerve
The goal of treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include: Medications—Eye drops, and rarely pills, are often administered to reduce intraocular pressure.Laser treatment—Laser treatment may be used to reduce intraocular pressure in some people.Surgery—Surgery may be done to open a new outflow channel from the eye.
Open-angle glaucoma can't be prevented. Regular eye exams are important to screen for eye conditions such as glaucoma.
Distelhorst J, Hughes G. Open-angle glaucoma.
Am Fam Physician
Weinreb RN, Khaw PT. Primary open-angle glaucoma.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Christopher Cheyer, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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