Patient Education

A growing library of easy-to-read informational pages about a host of common eye problems.


Understanding and Treating Glaucoma

Anatomy of GlaucomaRegular eye examinations are important to determine the health of your eye. It is especially important in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a characteristic pattern of optic neuropathy. Glaucoma is most cases has no symptoms until late in the course of the disease. Risk factors for glaucoma include family history of glaucoma, history of ocular trauma, age over 60 years old, chronic steroid use in any form including eyedrops, creams, and pills, and African/Hispanic ancestry.

The mainstay of treatment in glaucoma is to lower the intraocular pressure to a level at which further damage to the optic nerve does not occur. This “target” pressure can vary depending on the person and the status of the optic nerve.

Glaucoma

Anatomy of GlaucomaGlaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight,” as it is often a painless, symptom-less disease that gradually takes away vision permanently. It affects about three million Americans and only half of those affected even know that they have the disease!

Background

Glaucoma is a disease that progressively damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is of critical importance to vision because it transmits all signals from the retina to the brain. Without a functioning optic nerve, a person cannot see anything and is blind.

Inside the front part of the eye is a fluid filled space called the anterior chamber. This “chamber” is filled with a fluid called Aqueous Humor, which is constantly being freshly made and drained in order to provide nutrition and oxygen to the front part of the eye. An imbalance of this fluid’s production and drainage can lead to high pressure within the eye, which in many cases of glaucoma can lead to nerve damage. Of note, this eye pressure is unrelated to the body’s blood pressure and the eye pressure can be normal even if the blood pressure is high (and vice versa).