What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness affecting approximately 2 million people in the USA. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases in which damage is caused to the optic nerve and as a result vision becomes impaired or blindness occurs.
In most cases, this optic nerve damage is caused as a result of increased pressure within the eye although the damage may also be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibers, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibers themselves. While Glaucoma is serious, if recognized and treated early it can be controlled. This is made difficult since glaucoma symptoms rarely occur until the disease is in a progressed stage.
What are the Different Types of Glaucoma?
- Chronic (primary open-angle) Glaucoma: This is the most common form of Glaucoma which often develops gradually, giving no warning signs until sight is irreversibly compromised. Peripheral vision slowly deteriorates as pressure in the eye builds up, leaving the individual with limited tunnel vision.
- Low-tension or Normal Tension Glaucoma: This type of Glaucoma occurs in the absence of elevated eye pressure. Optic nerve damage occurs, sometimes as a result of low blood pressure and as a result narrowed vision occurs.
- Acute (angle-closure) Glaucoma: When the pressure inside the eye increases rapidly due to the iris blocking the drainage of eye fluid, acute glaucoma can occur. This type of glaucoma is rare and is often severe. Symptoms come on suddenly and include pain, nausea, blurred vision, rainbow effects around lights and redness of the eye. Immediate medical help should be sought. If treatment is delayed there can be permanent visual damage.
- Congenital Glaucoma: Generally seen in infants, this rare form of glaucoma is caused by an abnormal drainage system. It can either be present at birth or develop later on in life. Parents often notice that their child seems sensitive to light, and has slightly enlarged and cloudy eyes that are often teary.
- Secondary Glaucoma: This can occur as a result of other disorders of the eye such as injury, cataracts, eye inflammation, previous surgery, diabetes, tumors, and certain medications such as steroids.