Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. While glaucoma can develop in anyone, people over age 60, who have a family history of glaucoma, or who are African-American are at especially high risk. Certain types of medical conditions, such as diabetes or extreme near-sightedness, can also increase the risk for glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a term used to describe several types of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve. In many cases, damage to the optic nerve is caused by increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP).
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma.
- In primary open-angle glaucoma, poorly functioning drainage channels prevent fluid from being released from the eye at a normal rate. This in turn causes a rise in intraocular pressure.
- People with primary open-angle glaucoma usually experience few or no symptoms until the later stages of the disease, when vision loss becomes apparent.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but treatment can help reduce intraocular pressure and prevent optic nerve damage and blindness. Glaucoma is usually treated with medications, although surgery may also be recommended for some patients.
Most glaucoma medications are usually given in the form of eye drops. Make sure your doctor or ophthalmologist explains to you the correct way to administer these drops.
A number of different medications are used to treat glaucoma. They include:
- Beta-blockers, such as timolol (Timoptic, Betimol)
- Prostaglandins, such as latanoprost (Xalatan)
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, such as dorzolamide (Trusopt) and brinzolamide (Azopt)
- Adrenergic agonists, such as apraclonidine (Iopidine) and brimondidine (Alphagen)
Review Date: 06/23/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.