An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the world's leading cause of irreversible blindness. Glaucoma can develop in anyone but people over age 60, those with a family history of glaucoma, and African-Americans are usually at high risk. Certain types of medical conditions, such as diabetes or extreme near-sightedness, increase the risk for glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a term used to describe several types of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve. In many cases, damage to the optic nerve is related to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP).
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma.
- In primary open-angle glaucoma, poorly functioning drainage channels prevent fluid from being released from the eye at a normal rate. This in turn causes a rise in intraocular pressure.
- People with primary open-angle glaucoma usually experience few or no symptoms until the later stages of the disease, when vision loss becomes apparent.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but treatment can help reduce intraocular pressure and prevent optic nerve damage and blindness. Glaucoma is usually treated with medications, although laser treatment or surgery may also be recommended for some patients.
Most glaucoma medications are given in the form of eye drops. Make sure your doctor or ophthalmologist explains to you the correct way to administer these drops.
A number of different medications are used to treat glaucoma. They include:
- Prostaglandin analogs, such as latanoprost (Xalatan) and tafluprost (Zioptan)
- Beta-blockers, such as timolol (Timoptic, Betimol, generic) and betaxolol (Betoptic)
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, such as dorzolamide (Trusopt, generic) and brinzolamide (Azopt)
- Alpha agonists, such as apraclonidine (Iopidine, generic) and brimonidine (Alphagan, generic)