Open-angle glaucoma is unique as the angle of the anterior chamber is open, where there is access to the trabecular meshwork. This differs from closed-angle glaucoma, in that there is no structural obstruction of the trabecular meshwork from the iris.
Open-angle glaucoma is typically painless and is not a complaint which is presented to physicians. Due to this, it is often an incidental finding on eye exam.
Open-angle glaucoma has a higher prevalence in African-Americans, thus older patients of this race should be screened.
The development of open-angle glaucoma increases with age in patients. It is more common in the elderly.
Though not entirely clear, there is a familial component with open-angle glaucoma. Patients who have a positive family history should be regularly checked.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of this disease.
The cause for primary open-angle glaucoma is unclear, though it is understood that aqueous humor cannot flow through the trabecular meshwork.
In secondary open-angle glaucoma, the trabecular meshwork is obstructed by WBC's (from uveitis), RBC's (from vitrous hemorrhage) or retinal elements (from retinal detachment).
WBC's can build up and are too big to be filtered into the trabecular meshwork. They obstruct the passage of aqueous humor flow after a case of uveitis.
RBC's can obstruct the flow of aqueous humor through the trabecular meshwork after vitreous hemorrhage.
Retinal products may build up and be unable to be filtered through the trabecular meshwork, obstructing flow of aqueous humor. Instances of such products being formed include retinal detachment.
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