Open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma that I see in my clinic. In this type of glaucoma, the angles of the eye are open, but the drainage network of the eye, also known as the trabecular meshwork, is not functioning completely normally, or is partially "clogged".
When this happens, pressure can build up in the eye, and this elevated eye pressure can damage the optic nerve. When this damage to the optic nerve progresses, it can lead to loss of vision. This loss of vision typically starts off peripherally, and then can move to the center of the vision.
When the doctor examines the eye, the angles appear open, but the patient shows other signs of glaucoma, such as elevated eye pressure, increased "cupped" appearance of the optic nerve, or both.
These two examination findings are most likely to prompt the doctor to do further testing regarding glaucoma.
Open angle glaucoma is also hereditary, so it can run in the family. This may also prompt the doctor to do more investigation.
After these basic exam findings are identified by the doctor, he or she may order additional testing to include an OCT of the optic nerve or a visual field test. The OCT is similar to the 3D photograph of the optic nerve. It gives the doctor information regarding the thickess of the optic nerve (or lack thereof). If significant thinning of the optic nerve is identified, this may lead the doctor to diagnose the patient with glaucoma.
The visual field is a test that examines the peripheral vision of the patient. This is a very important test to evaluate the stage and the severity of the glaucoma. There are special testing algorithms on the visual field machine, that are specifically created to look for glaucoma.
Once the diagnosis of open angle glaucoma is made, it is typically treated with eye drops, laser, or surgery. We will touch upon these treatments more in later blog posts.
If you are a patient who has glaucoma, or is concerned about a family history of glaucoma, and you live in the metro Orlando or Oviedo region, don't hesitate to reach out to us!
Until next time,