Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions characterized by irreversible damage to the optic nerve. This damage to the optic nerve can lead to permanent blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
When the optic nerve becomes damaged by glaucoma, peripheral vision is usually the first to be lost. Most patients will not notice the early stages of glaucoma because the loss of peripheral vision is so gradual. Most types of glaucoma do not cause pain or other noticeable symptoms.
Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma is essential to minimize or prevent optic nerve damage and vision loss. Risk factors for glaucoma include the following:
- Elevated eye pressure
- Age > 60 years
- Family history of glaucoma
- Prior history of eye trauma or disease
- Extended use of corticosteroids
- Abnormal eye architecture
These risk factors increase the probability that you may develop glaucoma. We recommend that you have your eyes examined regularly to check for possible indications of early glaucoma.
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower the pressure inside the eye. This can be achieved using medications, laser procedures, and surgical procedures in the operating room.
Medications used for glaucoma are usually eye drops that lower the eye pressure.
Surgical procedures for glaucoma work by increasing the outflow of fluid from the eye, thereby decreasing the eye pressure. The standard surgery for glaucoma is called a trabeculectomy and is demonstrated in the picture below.