OasisEye Specialists

Open-angle Glaucoma

What is Open-angle Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma is a common and often asymptomatic eye condition that poses a significant risk to vision if left untreated. Often referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” open-angle glaucoma develops gradually, and its early stages may go unnoticed. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of open-angle glaucoma, exploring its characteristics, risk factors, and the importance of early detection and management.

Characteristics of Open-Angle Glaucoma

  1. Aqueous Humor Drainage Impairment
    Open-angle glaucoma is characterized by an impairment in the drainage of aqueous humor, the fluid that circulates within the eye. This impairment occurs in the trabecular meshwork, a drainage structure located at the angle where the iris and cornea meet.
  2. Increased Intraocular Pressure (IOP)
    As the drainage of aqueous humor becomes less efficient, intraocular pressure (IOP) gradually increases. Elevated IOP is a significant risk factor for optic nerve damage, the hallmark of glaucoma.
  3. Optic Nerve Damage
    Over time, increased IOP can lead to damage of the optic nerve, which is crucial for transmitting visual information to the brain. The optic nerve damage results in the characteristic pattern of visual field loss associated with open-angle glaucoma.
  4. Peripheral Vision Loss
    One of the distinguishing features of open-angle glaucoma is the gradual loss of peripheral vision. Initially, individuals may not notice these subtle changes, as central vision remains relatively intact in the early stages of the disease.
  5. Asymptomatic Progression
    Open-angle glaucoma often progresses without noticeable symptoms until the later stages, making regular eye examinations critical for early detection. By the time symptoms become apparent, irreversible vision loss may have occurred.

Risk Factors for Open-Angle Glaucoma

  1. Age
    The risk of developing open-angle glaucoma increases with age, particularly after the age of 60. Individuals over 40, especially those with a family history of glaucoma, are advised to undergo regular eye exams.
  2. Family History
    A family history of glaucoma raises the risk for its development. Genetic factors may play a role in predisposing individuals to open-angle glaucoma.
  3. Race and Ethnicity
    Certain racial and ethnic groups, including individuals of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent, have a higher prevalence of open-angle glaucoma. African Americans, in particular, are more susceptible to developing the condition at an earlier age.
  4. Medical Conditions
    Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease may increase the risk of open-angle glaucoma. Proper management of these underlying conditions is crucial for overall eye health.
  5. Myopia (Short-sightedness) and Hyperopia (Long-sightedness)
    Individuals with high degrees of myopia or hyperopia may be at an increased risk for developing open-angle glaucoma.
  6. Early Detection and Diagnosis
    Early detection is paramount in managing open-angle glaucoma effectively. Comprehensive eye examinations, including measurements of intraocular pressure, assessment of the optic nerve, and visual field testing, are key components of the diagnostic process. Additionally, imaging technologies, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), aid in evaluating the optic nerve structure.

Treatment and Management

  1. Medication
    Prescription eye drops are often the first line of treatment for open-angle glaucoma. These medications aim to reduce intraocular pressure by either increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing its production.
  2. Laser Therapy
    Laser treatments, such as selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) or laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI), may be recommended to improve the drainage of fluid within the eye and lower intraocular pressure.
  3. Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS)
    Unlike traditional glaucoma surgeries, MIGS techniques involve small incisions and are often performed concurrently with cataract surgery. MIGS are usually tiny drainage implants placed in the eye through small incisions. By enhancing the outflow of aqueous humor or creating alternative drainage pathways, MIGS aims to reduce intraocular pressure and slow the progression of glaucoma.
  4. Surgery
    In cases where medications and laser therapy are insufficient, surgical interventions like trabeculectomy may be considered to create alternative pathways for fluid drainage.
  5. Lifestyle Modifications
    Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and managing other health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, can contribute to overall eye health and potentially reduce the risk of progression.


Open-angle glaucoma is a prevalent and potentially sight-threatening eye condition that demands attention due to its silent progression. Regular eye examinations, especially for individuals with risk factors, play a crucial role in early detection and management. By understanding the characteristics of open-angle glaucoma and its risk factors, individuals can take proactive steps toward preserving their vision and maintaining optimal eye health. Remember, when it comes to glaucoma, early detection is key, and regular eye check-ups are your best defence against the silent thief of sight.