Symptoms and Signs of Glaucoma

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2021

Doctor's Notes on Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a type of eye disease that affects the optic nerve and causes vision loss. Most types of glaucoma are due to elevated pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP). There are two main types of glaucoma: angle-closure glaucoma, in which the normal drainage canals within the eye are physically blocked and open-angle glaucoma, in which the drainage system remains open. Both types of glaucoma may cause vision damage without symptoms. 

Most of the time, glaucoma does not result in noticeable symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. As optic nerve fibers are damaged by glaucoma, small blind spots may begin to develop, usually in the peripheral or side vision. If there are sudden increases in intraocular pressure (IOP), symptoms of glaucoma may include

What is the Treatment for Glaucoma?

Treatment of glaucoma is key to prevent further damage to the eye and loss of vision. Common treatments for glaucoma include medicines (usually eye drops), laser treatment, and surgery.   

Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment. The eye drops work by lowering the pressure in the eye by helping the fluid drain from the eye, and by lowering the amount of fluid the eye produces, which helps prevent damage to the optic nerve. Eye drops used to treat glaucoma include:

  • Prostaglandins
  • Rho kinase inhibitor
    • Netarsudil (Rhopressa) 
  • Nitric oxides
    • Latanoprostene bunod (Vyzulta) 
  • Miotic or cholinergic agents
  • Alpha-adrenergic agonists 
    • Alphagan P 
  • Beta-blockers
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

A laser treatment called trabeculoplasty is used to treat open-angle glaucoma. It is performed in a doctor’s office and it helps drain fluid from the eye to decrease the pressure.

Different types of surgery for glaucoma that can help lower the pressure in the eye include: 

  • Trabeculectomy 
  • Glaucoma implant surgery 
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) 

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.