Glaucoma FAQs

What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve which brings vision from the eye to the brain is damaged usually by elevated pressure in the eye. In rare cases, people with normal or low pressure in the eye develop glaucoma.
What is the difference between open and narrow angle glaucoma?

In narrow angle glaucoma, access to the structures that drain fluid from the eye are blocked as the human lens grows with age. This condition is more common with people that have short or farsighted eyes. This type of glaucoma can present with a patient suddenly develop a red, painful, eye with decreased vision. In some cases, the symptoms of angle closure are subtler and not noticed by the patient.

In open angle glaucoma, the access to the drainage structures of the eye if not blocked. Typically, loss of vision with open angle glaucoma is not evident to the patient until advanced stages of vision loss unless detected during an eye examination.

How can I know if I have glaucoma?
About half the people found to have open angle glaucoma don’t know that they have glaucoma when first detected on an eye examination. Your eye pressure, visual field, and optic nerves are inspected during an eye examination. Sometimes specialized tests are used to confirm the presence of glaucoma and stage its severity. Patients with blood relatives with glaucoma, or who have diabetes, and who take medications such as corticosteroids are at increased risk to develop glaucoma.
How is open angle glaucoma treated?
The first line of treatment of open angle glaucoma is with prescription eye drops, which adequately control eye pressure in most patients. Sometimes patients require oral medications, laser surgery or conventional surgery to treat open angle glaucoma. With regular follow up and effective treatment, most patients in the United States do not lose significant vision to open angle glaucoma.
How is narrow angle glaucoma treated?
Acute attacks of angle glaucoma in which the eye pressure can rise to dangerous levels is usually first treated with medications. After the eye pressure returns to normal levels and when eye inflammation is reduced, the Laser is generally used to make a new passageway for fluid to leave the eye called an Iridotomy. Sometimes conventional eye surgery is required to relieve eye pressure in angle closure glaucoma.
What are the chances that I will go blind with glaucoma?
Most patients with glaucoma in the United States do not go blind from glaucoma; a small percentage of patients lose their vision. Without modern detection and treatment of glaucoma, a large percentage of people go blind from glaucoma.
How is glaucoma affected by cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery typically reduces eye pressure and helps control glaucoma. In rare cases, cataract surgery will cause or make glaucoma worse. Glaucoma is commonly treated at the time of cataract surgery with additional treatments such as implanting a drainage stent or passageway.
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