Glaucoma is a disease associated with damage to the optic nerve, the result of increased pressure in a localized region of the eye surrounding the nerve. Glaucoma most typically develops when fluid drainage issues are present, meaning that the internal fluid has an inability to leave the eye or flow is partially blocked, leading to the increased pressure.
Glaucoma`s effects are often permanent and the damage done will most likely be irreversible, so it is paramount to identify its presence early through regular comprehensive eye exams. Glaucoma can exist in a number of forms, but three common conditions can be categorized in the following varieties.
Most Common Types of Glaucoma
- Open-angle Glaucoma – appearing most often in middle aged people, this type of glaucoma develops slowly due to a dysfunction in the draining properties of the eye, despite there being partial drainage to reduce pressure on the optic nerve. Eventually it may lead to partial or total vision loss. A major symptom of this disease is a difference between quality of vision in each eye.
- Closed-angle Glaucoma – this case refers to a complete blockage of the canals that allow fluid in the eye to escape. Pressure will build within the eye at a sudden rate, risking serious damage to the optic nerve. Anytime you experience sudden or severe pressure in the eye or drastic changes in quality of vision consider it a medical emergency and consult healthcare professionals immediately.
- Congenital Glaucoma – a defect in the angle of the eye at birth will slow normal fluid drainage and increase pressure on the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma can be identified a young age by the presence of light sensitivity, excessive tearing, and consistently cloudy eyes.
Know the Risk Factors of Glaucoma
Glaucoma can develop in any ocular system, but there are several factors known to increase the risk of contracting the disease that can be monitored on a regular basis with your eye care provider.
- Age – glaucoma is present mostly in people over the age of forty.
- Diabetes and/or high blood pressure – the existence of either of these conditions can greatly increase the threat of glaucoma
- Past injury – previous trauma to the eyeball or optic nerve can have negative results on the drainage properties of the eye
- Family history and ancestry – those with African heritage or familial occurrence are predisposed to the development of glaucoma
- Because glaucoma can develop at a variety of stages in life and often without warning, it is important to manage your Glaucoma with an Optometrist.
Comprehensive glaucoma testing has been developed to recognize the presence of the disease at its earliest stages and to slow glaucoma effects before serious damage occurs.