The most common type of glaucoma among Americans is Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). This type of glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage channels become clogged. The eye normally produces a clear, water like fluid, called “aqueous humor.” The aqueous humor, nourishes the eye, and gives it support. This fluid is produced by a faucet-like structure named the “ciliary body.” Patients at risk for POAG develop clogging of their drainage channels. These drainage channels are called the “trabecular meshwork.” It is obstruction of this meshwork which causes the pressure to rise in the eye, and leads to glaucoma.
Three important concepts in understanding glaucoma are
1.Ciliary Body: Cells which produce the clear water like aqueous humor
2.Aqueous Humor: The fluid which provides nourishment and support to the eye
3.Trabecular Meshwork: Drainage channels for aqueous humor to exit the eye.
Now that we know these three structures we can continue to understand Primary Open Angle glaucoma (POAG.)
In patients with POAG or in patients at risk for POAG, the eye’s faucet produces the aqueous humor at the normal rate. The eye’s drainage channels, the trabecular meshwork, lose their ability to drain the fluid at the same rate that it is produced. This leads to excess fluid in the eye and an elevated intraocular pressure (IOP.) When the intraocular pressure rises above normal limits, it can cause damage to the optic nerve.
In fact, when optic nerve cells are damaged or destroyed, we call that glaucoma. Glaucoma is defined as optic nerve cell death. Future blogs will continue to expand upon the mechanisms and treatments for the glaucomas. For more information about glaucoma, click here: https://www.goodeyes.com/glaucoma.asp