What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma Diagram

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions in which increased fluid pressure inside the eye causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying visual information from the eye to the brain. If left untreated, glaucoma will eventually lead to blindness. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States, and first worldwide. Glaucoma can affect anyone at any age.

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About the Disease

    • A major risk factor for glaucoma is increased eye pressure that occurs when fluid in the eye that is used to transport nutrients to the lens and cornea – accumulates and cannot drain naturally.
    • Over time the trapped fluid builds up, causing increased pressure in the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and destroy vision.
    • The first sign of glaucoma is often a loss of peripheral or side vision. Untreated glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision and eventually can cause total blindness.

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Glaucoma can be grouped into two categories:

          • Open-angle glaucoma – Represents the majority of all glaucoma cases. Open-angle glaucoma is asymptomatic – meaning it occurs without noticeable symptoms appearing – and can often go undiagnosed without proper checkups, and worsen over time.
          • Angle-closure glaucoma – Less common but more severe, and is marked with a rapid rise in eye pressure and severe vision loss.



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Glaucoma Treatments

While there is still no actual cure for glaucoma, Rapid City’s Black Hills Regional Eye Institute does offer treatment options to slow, stop, and in some cases reverse the effects of the disease.

Glaucoma Symptoms Chart

Diagram of Glaucoma Pressure

The goal of any procedures/glaucoma treatment is to reduce eye pressure, as this is the inevitable cause of vision impairment. Depending on the type of procedures/glaucoma, medication and surgery are currently the only viable options. The most common treatment method prescribed is medicated eye drops, which reduce pressure and in some cases protect the optic nerve from further damage. Eye drops are usually prescribed to patients with open-angle and secondary procedures/glaucoma and in some cases angle-closure. For those suffering from angle-closure procedures/glaucoma, the pain caused by an attack will dictate emergency medical attention. If left untreated, angle-closure procedures/glaucoma can result in blindness in a matter of days. Medicated eye drops or pills may be prescribed, but in all likelihood, laser surgery will be necessary. Laser surgery for both angle-closure and congenital procedures/glaucoma reopens or creates new channels for fluid in the eye in order to reduce swelling.

Learn More about Glaucoma

While there may be no permanent cure for any type of procedures/glaucoma, there is no reason to forgo treatment in lieu of vision impairment and eventual blindness. The Eye Institute offers a variety of treatments for all types of eye conditions. Please contact us today to schedule your personal consultation with one of our physicians; the sooner your procedures/glaucoma is diagnosed, the better chance there is of improving, and ultimately saving your vision.


Dr. JorgensenAdam Jorgensen, MD