Eye Conditions in Older Adults: Open-Angle Glaucoma

FP Essent. 2016 Jun;445:11-6.


Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States, affecting 1.9% of individuals older than 40 years. The prevalence of the most common form, open-angle glaucoma, increases with age and is higher in non-Hispanic minorities. The progressive loss of peripheral vision in glaucoma often leads to difficulty with driving, particularly at night, and can increase the risk of falls and subsequent fractures. Although glaucoma usually is characterized by chronically elevated intraocular pressure, it is more accurately defined as an optic neuropathy. Typically, there are no warning signs or symptoms, and extensive and permanent optic nerve damage can occur before the patient is aware of visual field loss. A cup to disc ratio greater than 0.6 on ophthalmoscopy is suspicious for glaucoma, and visual field testing results show a characteristic peripheral loss. Medical and surgical treatments are aimed at decreasing intraocular pressure by decreasing production of aqueous humor and increasing its outflow. Drugs for glaucoma treatment include prostaglandin analogs, beta blockers, alpha2-adrenergic agonists, and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Surgical or laser treatment is indicated if medical management is unsuccessful. Alternative therapies are less effective and have more adverse effects than standard treatments.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / physiopathology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors