Primary open-angle glaucoma is caused by an imbalance in the production and drainage of the aqueous humor, the fluid that fills the anterior chamber of the eye. If there’s too much of this fluid produced and it is not well drained, then the pressure inside the eye – known as intraocular pressure (IOP) – may raise to dangerous levels.
As eye pressure increases, it begins to push up against nerve fibers of the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending signals and information to the brain. As a result, there isn’t enough oxygen and nutrients reaching the optic nerve. Slowly but surely, high IOP causes irreversible damage contributing to vision loss.
Vision loss in primary open-angle glaucoma typically begins in the peripheral vision and then moves slowly to central vision.
What makes primary open-angle glaucoma difficult to spot is that aside from not presenting symptoms, it doesn’t show any abnormalities either.
A common treatment option for primary open-angle glaucoma is eye drops that can help lower eye pressure. Types of eye drops used to treat primary open-angle glaucoma include prostaglandin analogues, beta-blockers, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, sympathomimetics, and miotics.
Some eye drops are not suited for certain patients with certain health conditions as they can yield negative side effects.
Laser treatment can also be used to treat primary open-angle glaucoma. It is recommended in cases where eye drops are unsuccessful. Types of laser treatments include laser trabeculoplasty (which helps drain the tubes within the eye), cyclodiode laser treatment where some tissue is destroyed by the laser to reduce pressure, and laser iridotomy where holes are created in the iris for the fluid can be drained.
Lastly, surgery can also help improve primary open-angle glaucoma. Surgery options include trabeculectomy, trabeculotomy, viscocanalostomy, deep sclerectomy operation, and trabecular stent bypass. These surgeries are performed when the patient is awake with a local anesthesia.
In addition to medical treatments, it is important that a patient with primary open-angle glaucoma follows a healthy lifestyle. Special attention should be devoted to reducing their blood pressure as it can further increase pressure in the eyes.
Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and going for regular eye exams can help lower your risk of complications resulting from primary open-angle glaucoma. Because this type of glaucoma can go symptomless for many years, visiting your doctor routinely for eye checkup is crucial for your eye health.
Infographic – Vision Facts and Tips