There are many kinds of glaucoma, which are classified as either “open angle” or “closed angle.” Open-angle glaucoma occurs because of an increase in pressure inside the eye. This pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP), is the amount of pressure that the fluid within the eye (aqueous humor) exerts on the surface of the optic nerve.
The main treatment for glaucoma is to lower your eye pressure. Your eye pressure is naturally regulated by a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is produced in the front part of your eye (aqueous humor) and drains out of the back part of your eye ( drainage system) on its way to the surface of your eye ( the conjunctiva).
If your eye pressure becomes too high, the drainage system is not able to drain the excess fluid.
The excess fluid backs up and damages the optic nerve.
Glaucoma also results from damage to your optic nerve. Pressure in the eye is the most common cause of optic nerve damage but it is not the only one. If you have a family history of glaucoma, or if you have diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the most common form of irreversible blindness, accounting for about 6% of blindness worldwide.
Glaucoma is also the second leading cause of blindnessamong U.S. citizens, preceded only by cataracts. In the following text is an excerpt from the 'The Glaucoma Wiki' from the page called 'Most common symptoms of glaucoma'.
The following is a list of common symptoms of glaucoma. Note that most people with glaucomahave no symptoms until they lose vision. These symptoms are common with other conditions also.
Since most of these symptoms are common to many other diseases, it is extremely important to have a complete eye examination to be sure that you are healthy. If you have symptoms that are not listed here, please contact your eye doctor immediately.
Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the fluid within the eye (aqueous humor) doesn’t flow out at the same rate that it flows in. Instead, it builds up behind the iris and causes pressure on the optic nerve. This is called “tear-down” glaucoma because it literally tears the optic nerve down. Ultimately, this pressure can damage the nerve fibers that carry images from the eye to the brain.
Treatment There are a number of medications which lower eye pressure and these are normally used to treat the caused of the damage.
If all else fails, laser surgery may be performed to release the pressure or surgery may be required to enlarge the eye’s drainage channels to ensure the fluidis draining more efficiently.
If the disease progresses to the point where only vision at the periphery remains, then a procedure called a trabeculectomy may be required to restore more vision. This involves removing a small part of the eye’s conjunctiva (the clear covering over the white part of theeye), the optic nerve (the nerve which supplies sight) and a small area of the retina (which transmits images to the optic nerve). A new channel is created by cutting into the eye and using a laser or special equipment to make a hole in the eye through which the fluid can drain. There are several problemswith this procedure; it can leave a depression in the eye (usually causing the eye to bulge), there can be damage to the retina and the optic nerve, and the success of the operation is dependent on the patient's immune system remaining in good working order.
You should realise that there is no known cure for glaucoma; it cannot be treated, it can only be controlled.
You may find you have to take medicine for the rest of your life to maintain a reasonable level of eye pressure.
You may also find that over the years your glaucoma has been controlled, but the problem returns.