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Open Angle Glaucoma

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), is generally referred to as “the silent thief of sight” because in the early stages of the disease there are no warning signs — no pain or vision loss. By the time one notices something is wrong, the disease is generally advanced with little recourse to improving the already present damage.  Its estimated 2.2 million people in the United States have POAG a number that is likely to increase to 3.3 million by 2020.  With that being said, it is also estimated that 50% of Americans with POAG don’t even know they have it.  As such it’s essential to have routine eye exams to make sure one is not developing early primary open-angle glaucoma.

Healthy eye and an eye wth Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

Why Does POAG Happen?

The eye is filled with fluid (called aqueous humor).  And generally, there is a balance between how much fluid is produced by the eye and how much is drained out allowing for constant normal pressure to exist, 10 to 21 mm Hg.  In open-angle glaucoma, there is an imbalance in the production and drainage of aqueous humor leading to a rise in pressure in the eye.

As pressure in the eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) increases, the pressure pushes harder against the optic nerve, in the back of the eye, which is responsible for transmitting visual information to the brain. This rise in pressure deprives the optic nerve of oxygen and nutrients. And over time leads to irreversible nerve damage and vision loss.  This vision loss usually begins in your peripheral vision and slowly moves centrally.

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