Primary open-angle glaucoma is a condition in which there is a blockage of fluid drainage from the eye. When fluid cannot drain properly from the eye, the pressure inside the eye may rise to a level that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the nerve that brings information from the back of the eye (retina), and damage to this nerve can result in vision loss and blindness.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. It affects at least 3 million Americans. In primary open-angle glaucoma, fluid builds up in the anterior chamber of the eye because it cannot drain through a meshwork structure between the colored part of the eye that controls light entry (iris) and the lens of the eye (cornea). In primary open-angle glaucoma, the spacing between the iris and cornea is normal. The risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma increases with age, especially above age 50, and is higher in those with a family history of this condition. Primary open-angle glaucoma can be asymptomatic or may have symptoms of decreased vision, particularly in the side or periphery, as well as pain, nausea, and headache.
Primary open-angle glaucoma can be diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated eye exam and by measuring intraocular pressure (IOP). Regular eye exams are important because this form of glaucoma is often asymptomatic prior to permanent vision loss. Treatment options include medication, laser surgery to create holes in the meshwork and allow fluid to drain from the anterior chamber (laser trabeculoplasty), and surgery to alter the iris to allow fluid drainage. If you have been diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are good sources of more information and can connect you with other people living with glaucoma.