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Open Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma in the United States. People with open-angle glaucoma often, but not always, have elevated eye pressures. We do not know why the eye pressure goes up in patients with open-angle glaucoma, because in contrast to narrow-angle glaucoma (link to page), there is nothing physically blocking the eye’s internal drainage system.

Who is at risk:

Anyone can develop open-angle glaucoma, but the risk becomes greater as you age. People who are more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma:

  • Have high eye pressure
  • Are very nearsighted
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are of African decent
  • Have high blood pressure

Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma usually does not cause any symptoms. There is typically not eye pain, blurred vision, or redness. Because the brain is capable of ignoring small blind spots, most people with early glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease. In fact, a great deal of vision can be lost before patients notice that they have a problem.

Diagnosing open-angle glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is usually diagnosed during the course of a complete eye examination. Your physician will perform a number of tests including

Tonometry to check your
intraocular pressures
ophthalmoscopy to examine
your optic nerves

Goniscopy to evaluate your eye's internal drainage system

Perimetry to measure your peripheral vision

Optic nerve imaging to document the shape of your optic nerve for future comparison

Treatments for open-angle glaucoma:

Glaucoma treatment usually starts with antiglaucoma medications, most of which come in eye drop form. The drops work by either slowing the production of fluid within the eye or by improving drainage of fluid from the eye. A variety of glaucoma medications are available. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. If treatment becomes necessary, your doctor will work with you to find a medication that works well and has the fewest number of side effects.

An alternative treatment for open-angle glaucoma is laser trabeculoplasty.

In some cases, the eye pressure remains elevated in spite of laser and medical treatment, and filtration surgery or glaucoma drainage implant surgery are indicated.

Glaucoma drops
Some of the available glaucoma drops



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