Glaucoma 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:
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:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
The goal of treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
The Glaucoma Foundation
Glaucoma Research Foundation
Glaucoma Research Society of Canada
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Distelhorst J, Hughes G. Open-angle glaucoma. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(9):1937-1944.
Facts about glaucoma. National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 16, 2014. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Vision screening recommendations for adults 40 to 60. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/midlife-adults-screening.cfm. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Vision screening recommendations for adults over 60. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/seniors-screening.cfm. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Vision screening recommendations for adults under 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/young-adults-screening.cfm. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Weinreb RN, Khaw PT. Primary open-angle glaucoma. Lancet. 2004;363:1711.
What is glaucoma? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/glaucoma.cfm. Updated September 1, 2013. Accessed July 17, 2014.
What is glaucoma? Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma. Accessed July 17, 2014.
Last reviewed June 2014 by Eric Berman, 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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