What is Glaucoma? What Causes Glaucoma? How Is Glaucoma Treated?

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and is a leading cause of preventable blindness. Although there are many variations of the disease, glaucoma results in a specific pattern of optic nerve damage and visual field loss. Many variations of this disease are characterized by elevated intraocular pressure.

There are two common types of glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. Your doctor may also call it wide-angle glaucoma. The drain structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) looks fine, but fluid doesn’t flow out like it should.

Angle-closure glaucoma also known as acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma. Your eye doesn’t drain like it should because the drain space between your iris and cornea becomes too narrow. This can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in your eye.

What Causes Glaucoma?

The fluid inside your eye usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked, or the eye is producing too much fluid, the liquid builds up, causing pressure. Sometimes, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it can be inherited, meaning it’s passed from parents to children.

Other causes may include:

  • Family history
  • Association with other diseases like systemic hypotension, diabetes mellitus
  • Burn or chemical injury to the eye or trauma to the eye
  • Severe eye infection or inflammation (uveitis)
  • Diseases of retina leading to abnormal vessels on the iris that may cause glaucoma

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Eye drops are the most common treatment for reduction of pressure in the eye. Prescribed eye drops can lower the creation of fluid in your eye or increase its flow out, lowering eye pressure.Oral medication. Your doctor might also prescribe medication for you to take by mouth, such as a beta-blocker or a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. These drugs can improve drainage or slow the creation of fluid in your eye.Microsurgery. In a procedure called a trabeculectomy, your doctor creates a new channel to drain the fluid and ease eye pressure. This form of surgery may need to be done more than once. Your doctor might implant a tube to help drain fluid. This surgery can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss, as well as bleeding or infection.Laser surgery. This procedure can slightly raise the flow of fluid from your eye if you have open-angle glaucoma. It can stop fluid blockage if you have angle-closure glaucoma. Procedures include:

  • Trabeculoplasty. This opens the drainage area.
  • Iridotomy. This makes a tiny hole in your iris to let fluid flow more freely.
  • Cyclophotocoagulation. This treats areas of the middle layer of your eye to lower fluid production.

A comprehensive eye exam can identify risk factors such as thin corneas, optic nerve asymmetry (a condition where the optic nerves do not appear as mirror images) and elevated intra-ocular eye pressure. READ MORE


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