Many of you have probably heard the term “glaucoma” before but are unsure of what it actually is. In truth, many patient confuse cataracts and glaucoma quite often. There are many different forms of glaucoma, many of which can be managed with simple medications if caught early on.
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
Approximately 90% of glaucoma diagnoses are classified as primary open-angle glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma is a form in which the fluid in the eye (commonly referred to as intraocular pressure or IOP) is not able to drain properly through the normal channels. As the intraocular pressure builds over time, the IOP gradually increases and begins to the exert force on the optic nerve int he back of the eye. Primary open angle glaucoma can be quite dangerous because patients are often completely asymptomatic. Open angle glaucoma rarely causes any symptoms and many patients do not notice any problems until the condition is in the end stages. It is important to get a yearly eye examination with your optometrist to ensure glaucoma is detected and treated early.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma (Narrow-Angle or Closed-Angle)
The other type of glaucoma that optometrists commonly see is called angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma. In contrast to the open angle form, the structures of the eye in narrow or closed angle glaucoma (CAG) physically block the drainage outflow resulting in an increase in the eye pressure. Patients with CAG may have symptoms such as blurry vision, eye pain, headaches, and redness. CAG can be an ocular emergency as the uncontrolled fluid buildup in the eye can cause irreversible damage with significant visual loss. If you are diagnosed with CAG your optometrist at Innovative Vision Care may try to help control the IOP with topical medications, however, laser or cataract surgery is often indicated to eliminate the blockage of the drainage system.