Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease that damages the optic nerve. It is usually characterized by high levels of pressure inside the eye. Normally the eye produces a clear fluid called aqueous humor that circulates in the front part of the eye, and excess aqueous humor exits the eye through the drainage angle, located where the iris and sclera meet. In a healthy eye, there is a balance between the amount of fluid that is made and the amount that drains out of the eye.
But if the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged or blocked, aqueous humor builds up, causing an increase in pressure inside the eye. Eventually, this increased pressure can damage the optic nerve, which transmits information from the eye to the brain. Optic nerve damage can cause irreversible vision loss.
Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be managed with the help of a knowledgeable ophthalmologist. Some of Boston’s finest glaucoma specialists call Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons home. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma or are experiencing troubling visual symptoms, our team is happy to evaluate you and provide you with a plan of action.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two primary types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of the disease. It occurs when fluid drains slowly from the eye’s drainage angle, similar to how a clogged drain works. Slowly, the pressure inside the eye starts to spike, and eventually damages the optic nerve. Because pressure builds rapidly, open-angle glaucoma often does not cause noticeable changes in vision or other symptoms. Eye exams are crucial to look for signs of optic nerve damage caused by open-angle glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma is less common but more serious. Angle-closure glaucoma, also called narrow-angle glaucoma, occurs when the drainage angle is blocked or closes. This causes a rapid spike in intraocular pressure. Signs and symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include suddenly blurry vision, severe eye pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches and halos or rings around lights. Angle-closure glaucoma requires immediate medical attention to prevent blindness.
Often the first line of defense against open-angle glaucoma is the use of medicated eyedrops. Some eyedrops reduce the amount of aqueous humor the eye produces, and others improve the way fluid exits the eye through the drainage angle. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions for using the drops. You may be advised to use more than one type of drop.
If eyedrops do not have the desired effects or the side effects are intolerable, glaucoma surgery is another option. During surgery, a new drainage channel is created inside the eye to allow fluid to leave the eye, or a small drainage device is implanted into the eye.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, the team at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons will work with you to determine the best plan of treatment. We will closely monitor you to ensure your intraocular pressure remains stable and you are not risking irreversible damage to the optic nerve.
To request an appointment with our glaucoma team, please call or email us today.