Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that result in damage to the optic nerve, which is located in the back of the eye and is responsible for carrying information from the eye to the brain. When the optic nerve is damaged, you can lose your vision. In the beginning stages, people with glaucoma lose peripheral, or side, vision. The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. With open-angle glaucoma, the optic nerve gradually deteriorates, which results in a slow, but steady loss of vision. If the disease is not treated, vision loss may get worse and can lead to complete blindness.

The onset of glaucoma can be attributed to a number of factors. In some patients, the condition develops early in life, but most commonly it affects people as they age. Glaucoma can occur after an injury to the eye or as the result of eye diseases. Increased pressure from fluid buildup that normally flows through a drainage system where the iris and cornea meet can also be a cause. When the fluid does not drain properly, it backs up and pressure builds, resulting in the characteristics of glaucoma.
Glaucoma can often be controlled with eye drops. A patient may be prescribed multiple eye drop medications to be administered several times a day. Eye drops can either reduce the production of fluid in the eye or assist the eye’s natural drainage system.
Some cases of glaucoma will require surgery. Traditional glaucoma surgery includes cutting a small hole in the eye to allow drainage of fluid buildup externally or to a biocompatible reservoir positioned on the eye.
Houston Methodist offers a new, minimally invasive electrosurgical procedure using the Trabectome. This surgical instrument has a curved tip that allows surgeons to remove a layer of ocular tissue blocking the eye’s natural drainage ducts through a two-millimeter incision.
Another advanced minimally invasive surgery now available at Houston Methodist involves a microscopic endoscope to perform laser surgery on the internal part of the eye that produces fluid, thus decreasing fluid production and thereby lowering the eye pressure.