Open-Angle Glaucoma

When is surgery necessary?  When medications or laser treatment cannot lower eye pressure enough, surgery is usually recommended.  Of the possible procedures, glaucoma filtration surgery, also called trabeculectomy, is the most common.

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve. This nerve carries visual information from the eye to the brain.  In most cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP).
The second most common cause of blindness in the United States, it usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are no symptoms at first, but a comprehensive eye exam can detect it.

A clear liquid called aqueous humor circulates inside the front portion of the eye. In open-angle glaucoma, this liquid does not flow efficiently through the eye’s sponge-like drainage system (known as the trabecular meshwork). When this liquid fails to drain properly, pressure builds within the eye.

A complete eye exam is needed to diagnose glaucoma. You may be given eye drop to widen (dilate) your pupil. The eye doctor can look at the inside of the eye when the pupil is dilated. A test called (tonometry) is done to check eye pressure. However, eye pressure always changes. Eye pressure can be normal in some people with glaucoma. This is called normal-tension glaucoma. Your doctor will need to run other tests to confirm glaucoma.

Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eye drops and/or surgery.


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