Glaucoma Prevention

Scripture: Luke 18:42(New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)): Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.”


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Eye pressures is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage. A clear fluid flows continuously in and out of the anterior chamber (a space in the front of the eye) and nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber at the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork, like a drain, and leaves the eye.

In open-angle glaucoma, even though the drainage angle is “open”, the fluid passes too slowly through the meshwork drain. The fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle glaucoma-and vision loss may result. That’s why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.

Blood pressure is a risk factor for optic nerve damage that results in glaucoma. The level of pressure your optic nerve can tolerate without being damaged is different for each person.  A comprehensive dilated eye exam is very important to help your eye care professional determine what level of eye pressure is normal for you.

You can often protect your eyes against serious vision with early detection and treatment.

Who is at risk for open-angle glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma. The people listed below, are at higher risk than others:

•African Americans over age 40

•Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans

•People with a family history of glaucoma

Glaucoma Symptoms

At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead (central) vision may decrease until no vision remains.

Glaucoma Treatments

Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.

Medicines: in the form of eyedrops or pills, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Before you begin glaucoma treatment, tell your eye care professional about other medicines and supplements that you are taking. Sometimes the drops can interfere with the way other medicines work.

Laser trabeculoplasty: helps fluid drain out of the eye. In many cases, you will need to keep taking glaucoma medicines after this procedure. Laser trabeculoplasty is performed in your doctor’s office or eye clinic.

Conventional surgery (called trabeculectomy): makes a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye. Conventional surgery often is done after medicines and laser surgery has failed to control pressure.