What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease in which the pressure inside your eye is abnormally high. High pressure is caused when the fluid in the front of the eye is not able to drain properly. The extra pressure caused by this buildup of fluid will eventually damage the optic nerve. Glaucoma is often painless, has no symptoms, and can cause irreversible damage before it is diagnosed. It is very important to have an annual eye exams to monitor your eye pressure and check for any signs of glaucoma.  

                There are two main types of glaucoma:

1.       Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma – This is the most common type of glaucoma. It occurs when the fluid does not drain well from the eye – almost like a clogged drain. This type goes unnoticed because it is often asymptomatic. Eye exams are important in diagnosing this form of glaucoma.

2.       Angle-Closure Glaucoma – This less common form of glaucoma occurs when the angle in the eye becomes completely shut off. It causes fluid to build up in the eye very quickly and may cause blurry vision, light sensitivity, nausea and headache. If this occurs, this is a true eye emergency. Please call the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital Emergency Department at (205)325-8254.


What Causes Glaucoma?

Normally, your eye is constantly making and draining fluid called aqueous humor. The fluid drains at a junction near your cornea called the angle. When the angle is not working properly, fluid cannot drain from the eye and pressure begins to build.



How is Glaucoma Treated?

Medicated Eye Drops

Glaucoma is first treated with eye drops that lower the pressure in your eye. Your doctor will monitor your pressure regularly while you are on the drops. 95% of people are able to manage their disease with the use of drops only.


If drops do not manage your pressure effectively, the next step is to consider a laser procedure called a Peripheral Iridotomy. During this procedure, your doctor will make a small hole in the corner of your iris with the laser. This hole helps fluid drain from the angle better.


If your glaucoma is uncontrolled after the above treatments and your drainage angle does not work properly, your doctor may recommend a Trabeculectomy surgery. During this surgery, your doctor creates a new drainage channel. He will cut a small flap in superior part of the sclera (white of the eye) and create a bubble, called a bleb, in the tissue surrounding the sclera that allows the fluid to drain from the eye. The bleb is made under the upper eyelid where it cannot be seen normally.



Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

The following factors increase your risk of glaucoma:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Over the age of 40
  • African or Hispanic heritage
  • Have had an eye injury​


Contact Your Birmingham, AL Glaucoma Specialist Today!

Although some populations are more at risk for glaucoma than others, it is very important for everyone to receive annual eye exams to rule out glaucoma. Glaucoma is often asymptomatic, and therefore can cause irreversible damage in patients that are unaware that they have the disease. Make an appointment today for your annual eye exam or glaucoma check.