Glaucoma is a chronic, progressive disease of the optic nerve characterized by vision loss within the visual field of the affected eye. The condition is generally bilateral, but may be asymmetric. The cause of glaucoma has been historically attributed to the eye pressure being too high for the health of the eye. In the majority of cases, the patient has a history of the eye pressure being above normal. As a result, the high pressure pushes on the optic nerve and causes nerve damage. However some patients have a normal intraocular pressure and still have glaucoma. In such cases, the pressure of the eye although in the normal range may still be too high for the health of this patient's particular eye.
Treatment of glaucoma may involve eye drops, laser procedures, surgery, or a combination. Eye drops attempt to reduce the production of ocular fluid or increase the flow of fluid from the eye. There are a variety of possible side effects from glaucoma medications which you should discuss with your physician. Laser procedures attempt to either increase the outflow system, such as in ALT procedures, or decrease the fluid production, such as in cycloablative procedures. The goal of eye drops and surgery is to reduce the eye pressure to a reasonable level and slow the progression of the disease so that the patient has the best visual field possible.