Chesapeake Eye Care & Laser Center
2002 Medical Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
Am I At Risk For Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an asymptomatic disease which can cause a slow and progressive loss of vision if untreated. The most common form of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma. Glaucoma affects the optic nerve of the eye. The optic nerve is responsible for the delivery of visual signals from the eye to the visual processing centers of the brain. Glaucoma causes a slow loss of the nerve fibers, which comprise the optic nerve. As the optic nerve loses its fibers, a defect, or black spot, in the vision can develop.
The diagnosis of glaucoma requires an extensive eye examination including visual field testing. A suspicious appearance to the optic nerve or loss of an area of the visual field are signs of glaucoma.
Although glaucoma may present at any age, it is more common over the age of 60 years. African American patients have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, and can develop glaucoma at a younger age. A family history of glaucoma is also an important risk factor.
The intraocular pressure (pressure of the eye) is also an important risk factor for glaucoma. The average range of intraocular pressure is from 10-21. The risk of developing glaucoma is increased with a higher intraocular pressure, but glaucoma can develop even in this normal range.
The goal of glaucoma therapy is to slow or stop the progression of optic nerve and visual field damage.
There are several different groups of eye medications which can be used for glaucoma. Lasers are also useful to help treat patients. Lasers can be performed in the office and are not painful. In some patients, drops and surgery may be performed. The glaucoma surgical procedures, either a trabeculectomy (Trab) or a tube shunt, are performed in the operating room. Each procedure creates a new outflow path to help lower the eye pressure.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but we have excellent therapies, which can help slow the disease progression. Early detection, treatment, and close monitoring of the disease can help to prevent many patients from developing symptomatic visual loss in their lifetime.