Spotlight on Glaucoma: Who's at Risk?

By Kimberly Mora, DNP, A-GNP-C Home
VNA Health Group

Spotlight on Glaucoma: Who's at Risk?

This article first appeared in VNA's House Calls newsletter and can be downloaded here.



Glaucoma is a chronic, progressive, and irreversible eye disease. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness, affecting more than 2.7 million people in the United States and more than 60 million worldwide.


There are many forms of the disease:


Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form and the most dangerous, causing irreparable harm before vision loss is noticed.


Angle-closure glaucoma is often secondary to eye infections, injuries, or certain medications which narrow the gap and compress the trabecular meshwork, producing a rapid buildup of fluid and eye pressure.


Here are some Fast Facts to help you address glaucoma risk in your patient population, but you should share your concerns with your primary care doctor and schedule routine eye exams.


Prevalence of glaucoma is higher in:


- Patients with increased intra-ocular pressure (the higher the pressure, the more likely the person is to develop glaucoma and the more likely it is to progress.)

- African American, Asian and Latino populations.

- Increasing age/older adult

- Family history/genetic influence.

- Patients who have had an eye injury.

- Patients with a medical history of farsighted- or nearsighted-ness, diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, or vascular disease that results in optic nerve ischemia.


Screening for POAG is performed primarily by an eye doctor to measure intra-ocular pressure. Diagnosis is often made through a combination of tonometry, assessment of the optic nerve, and investigational imaging.


Glaucoma is treated with medications that lower eye pressure. In some cases, surgery is recommended to improve fluid drainage from the eye. These treatments are often successful at preventing onset of open-angle glaucoma in patients with increased intra-ocular pressure and in delaying disease progression in patients with diagnosed disease.


Because glaucoma often has no symptoms in its early stages, it is recommended that patients who are at higher risk should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years.


Kimberly Mora, DNP, A-GNP-C
is a staff nurse at the VNACJ Community Health Center
and works with VNA’s patient experience team.


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