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All About Glaucoma

Eye With Glaucoma

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. The optic nerve is the back part of the eye that sends visual information from the eyes to the brain. Glaucoma typically occurs when there is an unusually high pressure inside of the eye. There are many types of glaucoma with various causes and symptoms.

Types of Glaucoma and Their Causes and Symptoms

Open-Angle Glaucoma
Also referred to as chronic glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of this eye disease. It occurs gradually with vision loss progressing over time. There are no early signs or symptoms of open-angle glaucoma since gradual vision loss can go unnoticed.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Angle-closure glaucoma is also referred to as acute or narrow-angle glaucoma. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, this form of glaucoma is not gradual and considered a medical emergency. Rapid buildup of fluid in the eye can cause a severe blockage and should be taken care of immediately.
Neovascular Glaucoma
Those with diabetes are susceptible to neovascular glaucoma. It is considered a secondary glaucoma since it is caused by another medical condition. High sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina and eventually form new ones. If these new blood vessels grow on the iris, they will cause increased eye pressure.
Congenital Glaucoma
Congenital glaucoma is an eye disease that children are born with. A defect in the angle of a child’s eye can slow or prevent fluid drainage causing high pressure on the eye. Symptoms of congenital glaucoma include sensitivity to light, cloudy eyes, and tearing.
Normal Tension Glaucoma
Unlike the other types of glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma is not caused by increased pressure to the eye. Damage to the optic nerve can happen from other unknown causes.

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Glaucoma typically doesn’t occur until later in life. It is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. It can be genetic, so if you have a family history of glaucoma it is crucial to get regular eye exams.

Glaucoma Treatment

Depending on the type of glaucoma and the severity, treatments will vary. Medications (typically eye drops), surgery, and laser treatment can all be used to reduce pressure or allow fluid drainage.

Since glaucoma typically has no warning signs, it is important to get annual comprehensive eye exams. Learn more about other eye disorders and diseases in our "Common Eye Problems" Contact Lens Guide.