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There are many subtypes of glaucoma.  Generally speaking, glaucoma is an eye disease in which it is believed that an elevated pressure in the front chamber of the eye is exerted upon the back internal aspect of the eye, inducing damage to the cells in the retina and optic nerve.  Unless the intraocular pressure is very high, the patient has no sensation of increased pressure.  If the elevated intraocular pressure is not diagnosed or treated and remains high, the patient loses peripheral vision initially, and it then progresses toward one’s central vision (fixation).  The visual loss is permanent and cannot be reversed by treatment.  It is detected by formal visual field testing in the ophthalmologist’s office.

Typically, eye drops are used initially to lower the intraocular pressure to a safe range for the patient, and follow-up visits are maintained every few months for one’s lifetime.  Even with proper treatment, glaucoma is not cured, it is managed.  Baseline and follow-up tests are necessary to diagnose, and follow glaucoma.

If eye drops are inadequate, laser treatment may be performed to attempt to lower the intraocular pressure.  If this is inadequate, formal glaucoma surgery may be needed to lower the intraocular pressure sufficiently.

Glaucomatous optic nerve

Simulated effect of glaucoma on a patient’s sight

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