What Is Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma?

The most common form of glaucoma is Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, or POAG.  POAG usually occurs in people over the age of 40, but it can also occur in younger adults due to risk factors like race, family history of glaucoma, and/or having very thin corneas. In fact, many Americans have POAG and are unaware of it because symptoms of glaucoma do not appear until very late in the disease process.  (Glaucoma Foundation, 2015).  POAG is painless and slowly impairs one’s vision, which is why it is important to regularly visit the ophthalmologist for a checkup.  Usually, the peripheral field of vision is the first to be affected with blind spots.  Once POAG reaches its advanced stages, the visual damage is irreversible.

The central issue in glaucoma involves damage to nerve tissue inside the eye by increased eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP).  Increased IOP gradually compresses and damages one’s optic nerves, the neural connection between the eyeball and the brain.  Once these optic nerve cells perish, they cannot regenerate, and the associated peripheral vision loss becomes permanent.

What Causes Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma? 

The exact cause for primary open-angle glaucoma is unknown, but there are a few theories. One theory states that it is caused by the trabecular meshwork and the cells involved, while others state that it is caused by an enzymatic problem (Glaucoma Foundation, 2015). Yet another theory states that POAG occurs because of a structural defect in the eye. This structural defect affects the eye’s drainage system which can cause increased IOP.

Treatment:

At this time, POAG has no cure, but the disease process can be slowed by treatment. Taking prescribed medications regularly, usually in the form of eye drops, is crucial to preventing glaucomatous vision loss.  The mainstays of glaucoma treatment include topical eye drops, laser treatment, and/or incisional glaucoma surgery to control IOP (Gary Heiting, 2014).

If you have any questions about your eye disease, please schedule a visit with Eye Physicians of North Houston at (281) 893-1760 or visit us online for more information at www.northhoustoneyecare.com.

Works Cited

Gary Heiting, O. (2014, May). Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from All About Vision: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/primary-open-angle-glaucoma.htm

Glaucoma Foundation. (2015). PRIMARY OPEN-ANGLE GLAUCOMA (POAG). Retrieved March 16, 2015, from Glaucoma Foundation: https://www.glaucomafoundation.org/Primary_Open-Angle_Glaucoma.htm

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