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Glaucoma, Primary Open-Angle

Intro

Regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist are important to screen for primary open-angle glaucoma. In particular, regular eye examinations are critical for people who are at high risk for glaucoma, such as African Americans and elderly individuals.

  • For people without any symptoms and who are aged 40 years and younger, screenings should be performed at least every 3-5 years.
  • Screenings should be conducted more often if the person is African American or older than 40 years.
  • For people with multiple risk factors for glaucoma, evaluation/monitoring should be performed on an even more frequent basis.

Your initial visit to the ophthalmologist is extremely important in the evaluation for primary open-angle glaucoma or other ocular disease that could be causing elevated intraocular pressure (called secondary glaucoma).

During this visit, the ophthalmologist may ask you about the following:

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Self-Care at Home

If your ophthalmologist prescribes medicines (see Medical Treatment and Medications) to help in lowering the pressure inside your eye, properly applying the medication and complying with your eye doctor’s instructions are very important. Not doing so could result in an additional increase in intraocular pressure that can further affect the optic nerve and cause permanent vision loss.

Follow-up

Depending on the amount of optic nerve damage and the level of intraocular pressure control, people with primary open-angle glaucoma may need to be seen from every 2 months to yearly, even sooner if the pressures are not being adequately controlled.

Glaucoma should still be a concern in people who have elevated intraocular pressure with normal-looking optic nerves and normal visual field testing results or in people who have normal intraocular pressure with suspicious-looking optic nerves and visual field testing results. These people should be observed closely because they are at an increased risk for glaucoma.

Prevention

Primary open-angle glaucoma cannot be prevented, but through regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist, its progression may be prevented.

Outlook

The prognosis is generally good for people with primary open-angle glaucoma.

  • With follow-up care and compliance with medical treatment, most people with primary open-angle glaucoma retain useful vision throughout their lifetime.
  • With poor control of intraocular pressure, continuing changes to the optic nerve and the visual field occur.

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