Open Angle Glaucoma

What is open angle glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure inside the eye causes damage to the delicate tissue and nerves on the inside of the eye. Overtime, this affects the ability to see and can cause blindness. Glaucoma is common and is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It most commonly affects adults, and become s more common with age. The exact cause is not well understood, but several factors may combine to cause this condition. Most people have no symptoms until significant damage to the eye has occurred. At this point, people with glaucoma notice that they cannot see clearly, especially at the sides of their vision. Open angle glaucoma can be treated with medications, laser therapy or surgery. If left untreated, it eventually results in blindness.

Risks

Open angle glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eye causes damage to the tissue and nerves inside the eye. This most commonly happens when the pressure inside the eye is increased, but can, in rare cases, occur with normal eye pressure. Pressure on the delicate tissues and nerves at the back of the eye causes damage and vision problems. The causes of open angle glaucoma are not well understood, but it's likely that this increased pressure is caused by a combination of factors. People over the age of 40 are more likely to develop this condition, and it becomes more common with age. People who are short-sighted, who have diabetes, who have African heritage and people who have a family member who has glaucoma are more likely to develop this condition.

Symptoms

Open angle glaucoma does not produce any early symptoms, therefore many people are unaware that they are affected. When vision loss occurs, it affects the sides (peripheral vision) before the center of vision.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is often made by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) or optometrist during a routine checkup to check vision and eye pressure. The diagnosis can be made when there are signs of nerve damage, either by testing vision or by changes on the inside of the eye. Other tests may be needed to exclude any other causes for the condition, including blood tests and a CT or MRI scan of the head.

Treatment

Treatment aims to decrease eye pressure with medication, laser therapy or surgery, in order to slow or prevent worsening of the condition.

Prevention

Screening people (testing patients without symptoms) who may be at risk of glaucoma can help to identify the condition early and prevent the complications of open angle glaucoma.