What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an ophthalmic condition where the optic nerve is damaged resulting in visual field damage. It is typically progressive, permanent visual field loss. In the most common form of glaucoma (Primary open angle glaucoma), the visual field will be constricted first in the periphery and then slowly moving centrally. Over time, this can result in “tunnel vision” where the peripheral field is greatly reduced. Because it is typically painless, most patients may not realize that they have signs of glaucoma.
What are types of glaucoma?
There are many types of glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma (primary open angle) results from increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Over time, this IOP increase will slowly damage the optic nerve and thereby visual field. Some of the other types of glaucoma include pigmentary glaucoma, angle closure glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma to name a few.
How is glaucoma monitored?
While there are many risk factors for glaucoma, intraocular pressure (IOP) is still considered the most important risk factor. The intraocular pressure is monitored and followed over time. In addition to IOP, testing modalities aid in assessment of the glaucoma progression. Some of these tools include:
- Visual field test
- Optic nerve OCT (optical coherence tomography)
- Optic nerve head exam
Can glaucoma be reversed?
Glaucoma resulting from optic nerve damage is not reversible. The goal of glaucoma management is to slow the progression of the disease. This is typically accomplished by reduction of intraocular pressure.
How is glaucoma treated?
A reduction of intraocular pressure from baseline IOP is the desired treatment goal in Glaucoma. This reduction of IOP is accomplished by a few different ways.
- Medicated eye drops
With respect to eye drops, there are a few different types of eye drops that are available for treatment of glaucoma. The eye care provider will determine the best eye drops for the patient based on the existing comorbidities.