Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma

The eye is a fluid-filled globe with a lens near the front and a light-sensitive screen in the back (retina). The optic nerve conducts light signals from the retina to the brain. It allows you to see images. Eye fluid is constantly made within the eye. Excess fluid drains out into the bloodstream.

Open-angle glaucoma is when the fluid pressure in the eye slowly increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss of vision, over months to years. It may progress to complete blindness if not treated. The cause of glaucoma is not known. It may be inherited.

Open-angle glaucoma is painless. The first symptoms may be loss of side (peripheral) vision. Or you may have no symptoms at all. Many times the symptoms appear later in the disease. So you may have a lot of vision loss before you become aware of the problem. The vision loss is long-lasting (permanent).

Open-angle glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, pills, surgery, and laser treatment. These help to reduce the pressure in the eye. Treatment is often successful at keeping pressures low and preventing more vision loss. This condition can’t be cured, so it is important to get treatment as prescribed for the rest of your life. Regular follow-up care with an eye care provider (an ophthalmologist) is very important to check your response to treatment.

Home care

  • Take medicines exactly as prescribed.

  • The eye needs certain vitamins and minerals for good health—especially vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc and copper. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables to be sure that you get enough of these nutrients. If you have trouble following a balanced diet, think about taking a vitamin and mineral supplement.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water in smaller amounts during the course of a day. Drinking too much at one time (more than 1 quart) may increase eye pressure.

  • Limit the amount of caffeine that you drink to moderate levels.

  • Regular exercise (3 times a week) may help reduce eye pressure. Stay away from exercise positions that put your head below your waist (such as bending over). This position will increase eye pressure. Talk with your healthcare provider about an exercise program that’s right for you.

  • Protect your eyes. An eye injury can cause increased eye pressure. Wear safety glasses or goggles when you play sports, use tools or machinery, or work with chemicals.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your eye care provider, or as advised. Regular appointments will help make sure that your treatment is keeping your eyes at a safe pressure.

Open-angle glaucoma tends to run in families. Other family members older than age40 should also be examined by an eye care provider.

When to seek medical care

Seek medical care right away if any of these occur:

  • Further loss of peripheral vision

  • Blurred vision

  • Eye pain or redness

  • Severe headache

  • Rainbow halos around lights

  • Sudden loss of vision

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