December 1, 2015
font size

Glaucoma (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Can glaucoma be prevented?

Primary open-angle glaucoma cannot be prevented, given our current state of knowledge. However the optic-nerve damage and visual loss resulting from glaucoma can be prevented by earlier diagnosis, effective treatment, and compliance with treatment.

Secondary types of glaucoma can often be prevented by avoidance of trauma to the eye and prompt treatment of eye inflammation and other diseases of the eye or body that may cause secondary forms of glaucoma.

Most cases of visual loss from angle-closure glaucomas can be prevented by the appropriate use of laser iridotomy in eyes at risk for the development of acute or chronic angle-closure glaucoma.

What is in the future for glaucoma?

New eyedrops will continue to become available for the treatment of glaucoma. Some drops will be new classes of agents. Other drops will combine some already existing agents into one bottle to achieve an additive effect and to make it easier and more economical for patients to take their medication.

Although lowering intraocular pressure is still the primary method of treating glaucoma, experts see the disease as more a neurological condition than an eye disorder. Researchers are investigating the therapeutic role of neuroprotection of the optic nerve, especially in patients who seem to be having progressive nerve damage and visual field loss despite relatively normal intraocular pressures. Animal models have shown that certain chemical mediators can reduce injury or death of nerve cells. Proving such a benefit for the human optic nerve, however, is more difficult because, for one thing, biopsy or tissue specimens are not readily available. Nevertheless, if any of these mediators in eyedrops can be shown to protect the human optic nerve from glaucomatous damage, this would be a wonderful advance in preventing blindness.

In other studies, new surgical methods are being evaluated to lower the intraocular pressure more safely without significant risk of damage to the eye or loss of vision.

Finally, increased efforts to enhance public awareness of glaucoma, national free screenings for those individuals at risk, earlier diagnosis and treatment and better compliance with treatment are our best hopes to reduce vision loss from glaucoma.


The AGIS Investigators. “The Advanced Glaucoma Intervention Study (AGIS): Comparison of treatment outcomes within race: 10-year results.” Ophthalmology. 111.4 (2004): 651-664.

Epstein, D. L., et al. “A long-term clinical trial of timolol therapy versus no treatment in the management of glaucoma suspects.” Ophthalmology. 96.10 (1989): 1460-1467.

Gedde, S. J., et al. “Treatment outcomes in the Tube Versus Trabeculectomy (TVT) Study after five years of follow-up.” American Journal Ophthalmology. 153.5 (2012): 789-803.e2. Gordon, M. O., et al. “The Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study: Baseline factors that predict the onset of primary open-angle glaucoma.” u>Archives of Ophthalmology. 120.6 (2002): 714-720.

Heijl A, et al. “Reduction of intraocular pressure and glaucoma progression: results from the Early Manifest Glaucoma Trial.” Archives of Ophthalmology. 120.10 (2002): 1268-1279.

Kass, M. A., et al. “The Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study: A randomized trial determines that topical ocular hypotensive medication delays or prevents the onset of primary open-angle glaucoma.” Archives of Ophthalmology. 120.6 (2002): 701-713.

Katz, L. J., et al. “Selective laser trabeculoplasty versus medical therapy as initial treatment of glaucoma: a prospective, randomized trial.” Journal of Glaucoma. 21.7 (2012):460-468.

Krupin, T., et al. “Low-Pressure Glaucoma Study Group. A randomized trial of brimonidine versus timolol in preserving visual function: results from the Low-Pressure Glaucoma Treatment Study.” American Journal of Ophthalmology. 151.4 (2011) 671-681.

Lichter, P.R., et al. “CIGTS Study Group. Interim clinical outcomes in the Collaborative Initial Glaucoma Treatment Study comparing initial treatment randomized to medications or surgery.” Ophthalmology. 108.11 (2001): 1943-1953.

Musch, D. C., et al. “CIGTS Study Group. Intraocular pressure control and long-term visual field loss in the Collaborative Initial Glaucoma Treatment Study.” Ophthalmology. 118.9 (2011): 1766-1773.

Wishart, P. K. “Interpretation of the glaucoma ‘landmark studies.’” British Journal of Ophthalmology.” Br J Ophthalmol. 293.5 (2009): 561-562.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015


WebMD Daily

Get breaking medical news.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations