All About Glaucoma
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that typically occurs when there is an unusually high pressure inside of the eye causing progressive damage to the optic nerve. Since optic nerve is the back part of the eye that sends visual information from the eyes to the brain, too much damage can result in vision loss. Each type of glaucoma has its own set of various causes and symptoms.
Causes and Symptoms of Different Types of Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. Also known as chronic glaucoma, it occurs gradually with vision loss progressing over time. Gradual vision loss can go unnoticed so unfortunately there are no early signs or symptoms of open-angle glaucoma.
Also referred to as acute or narrow-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is not gradual and is caused by rapid buildup of fluid in the eye. This is considered a medical emergency and those affected should see a doctor immediately.
Neovascular glaucoma is considered a secondary glaucoma since it is caused by another medical condition— diabetes
. Blood vessels in the retina can be damaged by high sugar levels and eventually form new ones. If these new blood vessels grow on the iris, they will cause increased eye pressure.
Children can be born with congenital glaucoma. A defect in the angle of a child’s eye can slow or prevent fluid drainage. This causes high pressure on the eye with symptoms including sensitivity to light, cloudy eyes, and tearing.
Normal Tension Glaucoma
Normal tension glaucoma is not caused by increased pressure to the eye like the other types. There are other unknown reasons why damage to the optic nerve can occur.
Who Is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. It typically occurs later in life but can also be genetic. It is crucial to get eye exams, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma and are over the age of 40.
Treatment for Glaucoma
Medications (typically eye drops), surgery, and laser treatment can all be used to reduce pressure or allow fluid drainage for glaucoma. Treatments will vary depending on the type of glaucoma and its severity. Talk to your eye doctor to learn more.
It is always important to get annual comprehensive eye exams, but even more so to check for glaucoma since there are typically little to no symptoms. Learn more about other eye disorders and diseases in our "Common Eye Conditions" Glasses Guide.