The most common form of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. It occurs when the trabecular meshwork of the eye gradually becomes less efficient at draining fluid. As this happens, your eye pressure, called intraocular pressure (IOP), rises. Raised eye pressure leads to damage of the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve can occur at different eye pressures in different patients. There is not one ‘right’ eye pressure that is the same for everyone. Your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) establishes a target eye pressure for you that he or she predicts will protect your optic nerve from further damage. Different patients have different target pressures.
Typically, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages and your vision remains normal. As the optic nerve becomes more damaged, blank spots begin to appear in your field of vision. You usually won’t notice these blank spots in your day-to-day activities until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and these spots become large, permanently damaging large portions of your vision.
How your glaucoma is treated will depend on your specific type of glaucoma, the severity of your disease and how well it responds to treatment.
Glaucoma damage is permanent—it cannot be reversed. But medicine and surgery help to stop further damage. To treat glaucoma, your ophthalmologist may use one or more of the following treatments.
Medicated eye drops are the most common way to treat glaucoma. These medications lower your eye pressure in one of two ways — either by reducing the amount of fluid created in the eye or by helping this fluid flow out of the eye through the drainage angle.
These eye drops must be taken every day. Just like any other medication, it is important to take your eye drops regularly as prescribed.
Most of the time glaucoma can be successfully treated using eye drops. Occasionally laser treatments or surgery need to be considered.