Glaucoma: Risks, Diagnosis and Treatments 

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve, which carries signals from the eyes to the brain. This damage can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. It is caused by multiple factors including increased pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure).

The two main types of glaucoma are open-angle and closed-angle. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type, affecting about 90% of people with glaucoma. It develops slowly over time and has no symptoms until significant damage occurs to the optic nerve. Angle-closure or narrow angle glaucoma is less common but can be more severe if left untreated. Symptoms include sudden onset eye pain and blurred vision, as well as halos around lights at night.


How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Regular eye exams are essential in catching glaucoma, assessing eye health, and identifying any vision loss. Tests for glaucoma include:

  • Dilated eye exam
  • Gonioscopy 
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) glaucoma
  • Ocular pressure test (tonometry)
  • Pachymetry
  • Slit-lamp exam
  • Visual acuity test (eye charts)
  • Visual field test (perimetry)

Who Can Get Glaucoma?

Glaucoma can affect anyone regardless of age or gender, but certain risk factors may increase your chances of developing the disease, such as:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Older age (over 40)
  • Black, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • Diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Myopia
  • Thin corneas
  • Long-term use of steroids
  • Previous eye injury/trauma
  • Our Specialist

Common Ages of Patients

Glaucoma can affect people at any stage in life; however, it is more common in adults over the age of 40. African Americans and other ethnic minorities are at higher risk. Glaucoma can also be seen in children and young adults, but this is rare.


What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma symptoms vary based on the type of glaucoma. There are 4 main types of glaucoma:

Open-angle glaucomaThe increase in pressure is slow and occurs overtime. For this reason, it cannot be felt and is difficult to diagnose until you experience blind spots in your vision. When symptoms do appear, the damage is usually severe.
Closed-angle glaucomaA sudden and severe block in fluid causes the pressure in the eye to rise quickly. Symptoms include eye pain and headache. Immediate medical attention is required.
Congenital glaucomaOccurring when an eye does not form correctly in the womb, symptoms of congenital glaucoma include light sensitivity, enlargement of one or both eyes, and cloudiness of the front of the eye.
Secondary glaucomaSecondary glaucoma can be open-angle or closed-angle, but the cause is identifiable (i.e., injury or diabetes). Symptoms are typically related to the type.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Depending on the type of glaucoma you have, there are a variety of treatments available. These include medications to reduce intraocular pressure, laser treatments, and surgery. Attention to increase your systemic physical health guided by your primary care doctor also helps. The goal of all treatments is to reduce the risk of vision loss and preserve as much sight as possible.

Glaucoma Medications

For open-angle glaucoma, medications or laser treatments are usually prescribed first to help lower eye pressure. Medications can be taken in pill form, injected into the eye or used as eyedrops.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatments use energy from a specialized device to improve fluid circulation and drainage within your eye and lower the pressure. This treatment may be recommended if you have either open- or closed-angle glaucoma.


Surgery may be necessary for certain types of glaucoma or when other treatments do not adequately control the disease. There are several types of surgery that can be used to reduce intraocular pressure, such as laser trabeculoplasty or a more invasive type called filtering surgery. 

No matter what treatment option you and your doctor choose, it is important to get regular eye exams and follow your doctor’s recommendations for managing glaucoma. This will help in preserving your vision and preventing further damage.

Glaucoma Surgery

Preventing Glaucoma

There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing glaucoma. These include getting regular eye exams, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, avoiding steroid medications if possible, wearing protective eyewear during contact sports or hazardous activities, and maintaining good overall health.

Glaucoma is a serious condition that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. It affects people of all ages and ethnicities but is more common in older adults and those with certain risk factors. Treatment options range from medications to surgery depending on the type of glaucoma you have. Regular eye exams and lifestyle changes may help in reducing your risk of developing the disease. If you think you may be at risk for glaucoma, it is important to contact your doctor about glaucoma treatment.


Glaucoma Treatment at Lehigh Eye Specialists

Lehigh Eye Specialists is an industry leader in providing diagnoses, treatment, and surgery for glaucoma. Our glaucoma specialist, Dr. Tricia Lennox Thomas, M.D., provides clients with unparalleled care. With her skill and compassion, she excels at educating her patients and giving them the most effective plan for managing the care of their eyes.

If you have been referred to Lehigh Eye Specialists for glaucoma treatment, we invite you to get to know Dr. Thomas prior to your appointment. Our Patient Portal page will also help you prepare for your visit.

Our Doctors  Patient Resources

About Lehigh Eye Specialists

Our glaucoma specialist, Dr. Tricia Lennox Thomas, provides clients with unparalleled care. With her skill and compassion, she excels at educating her patients and giving them the most effective plan for managing the care of their eyes.

About Dr. Thomas  About Our Practice