September 3, 2015
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Glaucoma (cont.)

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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.

Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery


American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Primary Angle Closure, Preferred Practice Pattern." Oct. 2010.

American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, Preferred Practice Pattern." Oct. 2010.

American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Suspect, Preferred Practice Pattern." 2005.
Reviewed by: John P. Keenan, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/3/2015


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