Primary open angle glaucoma affects millions worldwide, with the current estimate in the United States approaching 3.4 million. Despite these high numbers, many people have no idea that they are losing sight from high eye pressure. Primary open angle glaucoma is slowly progressive and painless making yearly eye exams critical for detection.
This form of glaucoma is due to increased resistance to fluid outflow in your eye, which in turn puts increased pressure on the optic nerve. This high pressure leads to irreversible damage and the initial loss of peripheral vision. The increased pressure on the susceptible optic nerve can lead to complete blindness in severe uncontrolled cases. Some people are at higher risk than others. Family history increases the risk for glaucoma along with increased age, but it is important to note that individuals who are of African or Hispanic descent can also be at greater risk.
While the statistics are alarming, this disease can be managed with appropriate screening and care. Innovative developments in recent years in both medication management and surgical techniques are now allowing patients, who would have had severe vision loss a decade ago, an opportunity to maintain good vision throughout their life.
The myriad of medical advancements allows me to customize a treatment that is right for you or your loved one’s lifestyle and the proper management of their disease. I find it helpful when explaining treatment to my patients to have them think about it as a plumbing issue. The eye needs a nutrient rich fluid to be made constantly. This fluid needs to be removed at a certain rate or the pressure will build up and cause damage. Some treatment options can help open up the drain, while others help turn down the tap. With the recent expansion in treatment, glaucoma can be managed more effectively than ever before.