What is Open Glaucoma?

Sarah Sullins

Glaucoma, a disease that causes increased pressure in a person’s eye, is generally distinguished by two different types, open or closed glaucoma. Open glaucoma is often also known as open angle or chronic glaucoma, and is caused by a blockage in drainage that increases eye pressure. This type is chronic, meaning it will not go away, and will often lead to blindness. It is slow to develop, often taking years to cause significant loss of vision, so many people with this eye disorder do not realize they have it.

Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.
Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.

Most of the people who suffer from open glaucoma are over the age of 50. Genetics usually play a role in the development of the condition, as well as race. African-Americans are more likely to develop it than Caucasians, for example. A person that is African-American may also develop the disease earlier in his life, and suffer from a form of glaucoma is that is stronger and more damaging than someone of a different ethnic background.

Glaucoma often causes blurred or cloudy vision.
Glaucoma often causes blurred or cloudy vision.

The typical cause of open glaucoma is usually a decrease of fluid drainage in the eye. Under normal circumstances, channels in the eye drain what is produced inside it. With open glaucoma, the fluid is still produced, but the channels become blocked and can not drain it. Too much liquid builds up inside of the eye, damaging the optic nerve and increasing a person’s eye pressure beyond its normal limits.

Symptoms of open glaucoma generally do not occur until the disease has progressed. When vision loss is finally noticed, the optic nerve is already damaged. This cannot be reversed, and the changes in vision are also permanent. Some people with this disorder may experience a feeling of pressure, blurred vision, or pain as the condition progresses.

Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Most of the time, treatment is determined by the amount of pressure that is in a person’s eye. Eye drops and medicine taken by mouth are often prescribed by a physician to reduce this. Surgery may be required for those who do not respond to the medications or who are unable to take the necessary drugs.

Trabeculoplasty is a type of laser surgery that is done to reduce the amount of pressure present in a person’s eye. If this procedure does not work, however, conventional surgery may be used to create another channel in the eye to allow for fluid to drain. As a last resort, ciliary body ablation may be used to stop the eye from producing any fluid.

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