Primary open-angle glaucoma is when optic nerve damage results in a progressive loss of the visual field. This is associated with increased pressure in the eye. Not all people with primary open-angle glaucoma have eye pressure that is elevated beyond normal, but decreasing the eye pressure further has been shown to stop progression even in these cases.
The increased pressure is caused by trabecular blockage. Because the microscopic passageways are blocked, the pressure builds up in the eye and causes imperceptible very gradual vision loss. Peripheral vision is affected first, but eventually the entire vision will be lost if not treated.
Diagnosis is made by looking for cupping of the optic nerve. Prostaglandin agonists work by opening uveoscleral passageways. Beta blockers, such as timolol, work by decreasing aqueous formation. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors decrease bicarbonate formation from ciliary processes in the eye, thus decreasing formation of Aqueous humor. Parasympathetic analogs are drugs that work on the trabecular outflow by opening up the passageway and constricting the pupil. Alpha 2 agonists (brimonidine, apraclonidine) both decrease fluid production (via. inhibition of AC) and increase drainage.