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Student Health Information Page compiled by: Madeline Ruhl

What is Glaucoma?

There are over 300 types of Glaucoma. The common determining factor is characteristic damage to the optic nerve. This can lead to visual defects, and potentially blindness. isk factors include: older age, increased pressure in the eye, family history of glaucoma, Surgical History, History of Physical Trauma to the Eye, Medical History, and More.

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Lowering eye pressure is important for glaucoma treatment. The greater the damage to the optic nerve, the lower the eye pressures must be to prevent further damage.

Two Major Classifications of Glaucoma

While there are many types of glaucoma, most cases of glaucoma are either: Open Angle Glaucoma or Angle Closure Glaucoma. Visits to the eye doctor to check for presence of glaucoma is important because glaucoma may be present even if you have no symptoms.
    Open Angle Glaucoma
  • Most common (Bathtub Analogy—slow buildup in the drain)
  • Requires lifelong treatment
    Bathtub Analogy
  1. Slow buildup in the drain
  2. Treatment: Encourage drainage through cloth (laser), make new drain (surgery), treat multiple pathways (eye drops)
    Angle Closure Glaucoma
  • Less common
  • Sometimes cured with one treatment but may require more treatments
    Bathtub Analogy
  1. Washcloth falls in the drain (acute ACG)
  2. Treatment: Poke "hole" in the cloth (laser), make new drain (surgery)
The exact cause of many types of glaucoma remains unknown. However, it is known that medications such as long-term steroids, conditions with as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, low blood count, or thyroid disease, or body positions that put the heart above the eyes can increase the pressure inside the eye and damage the nerve inside the eye (optic nerve)

Treatment for Open Angle Glaucoma:

Multiple Treatment Options for Both Open Angle and Angle Closure Glaucoma
    Laser Trabeculoplasty
  • Pros: Approximately 5-minutes. Possibility of decreasing need for topical medication. Can be repeated.
  • Cons: Generally can lower pressure only several points, and may not be effective in certain patients.
    Eye Drops: Many types of eye drops are available for the long-term treatment of glaucoma.
  • Pros: Can non-invasively treat glaucoma and help to prevent damage to the optic nerve.
  • Cons: Eye drops may irritate the eyes, and adherence may become difficult with multiple drops per day, particularly for the elderly.
    Surgery: Trabeculecomy, i-Stent, Glaucoma Drainage Devices, and more.
  • Pros: Highly effective to lower eye pressure
  • Cons: Involves risks of invasive surgery

Treatment for Angle Closure Glaucoma

    Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI)
  • Pros: Brief, effective treatment for Angle Closure Glaucoma. For patients with acute ACG, the benefits generally far outweigh the risks of proceeding with this procedure to ultimately lower eye pressure and minimize damage to the optic nerve.
  • Eye Drops: May require eye drops if combined with other types of glaucoma.
  • Surgery:Trabeculecomy, Drainage Devices, and more. Cataract Removal can also be considered in certain situations when the growth of the cataract is inducing ACG (known as a "Phacomorphic" component).

Resources and Support

Online information:

Click here for a video about the SLT procedure from the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Glaucoma Research Foundation
For Detailed Info about Glaucoma Surgery click here.

Glaucoma Research Foundation
Eyedrop Tips.