In the front of the eye, between the cornea (clear covering at the surface of the eye) and the colored iris, there is a small fluid-filled area called the anterior chamber. Just like with blood pressure, the pressure in this chamber (called intraocular pressure or IOP) should not be too high. When it gets too high, irreversible damage to the optic nerve can occur which can result in blindness. This increased pressure is called glaucoma.



In most cases, increased pressure results from an inability of the eye to drain fluids from the anterior chamber in a normal manner. Fluids are constantly flowing into the chamber and must be able to leak out right where the cornea meets the iris at its outer edges. A problem with these exit channels is the most common cause. This is referred to as open angle glaucoma.

In acute angle closure, abnormalities in eye structures (usually a bulging shape of the iris) blocks drainage of the fluids.

Secondary glaucoma exists when there is another health condition triggering this problem, such as diabetes, a tumor or trauma. In this case, both the glaucoma and the primary condition must be treated.

Some children are born with congenital glaucoma which results from abnormalities that developed as the eye formed.



Perhaps the most important thing to know about glaucoma is that it often progresses silently and painlessly. By the time glaucoma symptoms show up, the optic nerve could be irreparably damaged.

When there are symptoms, this is what might be experienced:

  • Blurred vision
  • Intense eye pain
  • Glare around lights
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Light sensitivity



Your eye doctor has several tests that provide a complete picture of the health of the eye. They will visually examine the health of the optic nerve and use a special device to examine the structures at the front of the eye to evaluate its ability to drain fluids properly. The IOP will be tested along with your peripheral vision.

Because of the absence of symptoms, it is very important to schedule regular examinations during which these tests can be done. Consult your eye doctor for the best schedule for you, but those over forty years of age would be wise to start scheduling annual exams. By seeing your eye doctor regularly, small changes that might be the first signs of glaucoma can be detected immediately.



The most common treatment is the use of eyedrops to reduce IOP. Some people may need more than one type of medicated drops. If medication fails to reduce the IOP, surgery may be needed to improve the ability of the eye to drain these fluids. Surgery is directed at improving the drainage channels and may utilize either microsurgery or lasers.

We are dedicated to preserving the health of our patients’ eyes and their sight and we are ready to help you, too. Whether you need to establish annual examinations or you need treatment, please call us at 727-500-2020.
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