Glaucoma Procedures

photo_hGlaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which carries the images we see from the eye to the brain. When you have glaucoma, the liquid in your eye (the aqueous humor) cannot drain properly and pressure builds up in the eye, resulting in damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.

Glaucoma procedures are performed to relieve the pressure in the eye by reducing the production of fluid or creating an outlet for the fluid that’s being created (generally a small surgical opening or implanted shunt). Depending on the specific case, procedures may be performed using lasers or traditional precision surgical tools.

Common Types of Glaucoma

The most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma. Here, the aqueous fluid that usually circulates in the front part of the eye is blocked from circulating out of the eye as it should. Over time, this builds pressure inside the eye and cause damage to the optic nerve—leading to vision loss. In most cases, patients who develop primary open-angle glaucoma don’t notice any symptoms until their vision becomes impaired. 

Another type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma. This condition is caused when the iris (the colored part of the eye) drops over and completely closes off the drainage angle. The flow of aqueous fluid is abruptly blocked and leads to increased intraocular pressure (IOP), and ultimately, optic nerve damage. In acute angle-closure glaucoma, the buildup of pressure is so sudden that it causes an emergency situation, possibly causing optic nerve damage and vision loss within hours of onset. Symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma can include nausea, vomiting, seeing haloes around light, and eye pain. 

Normal tension glaucoma is a somewhat mysterious condition that affects people with "normal" IOP.  These patients experience optic nerve damage even though the fluid pressure in their eye is at acceptable levels. As with other forms of glaucoma, lowering IOP is effective in slowing the glaucoma’s progression.  . 

Risk Factors

Potential risk factors for glaucoma include: elevated IOP, a family history of glaucoma, ethnicity, advanced age, and certain optic nerve conditions. While childhood glaucoma is rare, it can start in infancy, childhood or adolescence, and like most types may run in families. There are few, if any symptoms in the early stage, but can result in blindnes if left untreated.

Regular screenings are the best way to detect and treat glaucoma at any age. Be sure you discuss your risk factors with your opthomologist.