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Glaucoma: Types, Treatment & News

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2015-03-15 - Information regarding Glaucoma diseases that can damage the eyes optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness.

Glaucoma is a family of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and in most extreme cases, blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly begins to rise. However, with early diagnosis, you can often treat your eyes and guard them from serious vision loss.

Glaucoma is a term describing a group of ocular (eye) disorders that result in optic nerve damage, often associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure)(IOP). The disorders can be roughly divided into two main categories, "open-angle" and "closed-angle" (or "angle closure") glaucoma. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

What is the optic nerve

The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve endings. It connects the retina to the brain. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision.

What are some other forms of glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. Some people have other types of the disease.

Low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma.

Optic nerve damage and narrowed side vision occur in people with normal eye pressure. Lowering eye pressure at least 30 percent through medicines slows the disease in some people. Glaucoma may worsen in others despite low pressures.

A comprehensive medical history is important in identifying other potential risk factors, such as low blood pressure, that contribute to low-tension glaucoma. If no risk factors are identified, the treatment options for low-tension glaucoma are the same as for open-angle glaucoma.

Angle-closure glaucoma.

The fluid at the front of the eye cannot reach the angle and leave the eye. The angle gets blocked by part of the iris. People with this type of glaucoma have a sudden increase in eye pressure. Symptoms include severe pain and nausea, as well as redness of the eye and blurred vision. If you have these symptoms, you need to seek treatment immediately.

This is a medical emergency. If your doctor is unavailable, go to the nearest hospital or clinic. Without treatment to improve the flow of fluid, the eye can become blind in as few as one or two days. Usually, prompt laser surgery and medicines can clear the blockage and protect sight.

Congenital glaucoma

Children are born with a defect in the angle of the eye that slows the normal drainage of fluid. These children usually have obvious symptoms, such as cloudy eyes, sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing. Conventional surgery typically is the suggested treatment, because medicines may have unknown effects in infants and be difficult to administer. Surgery is safe and effective. If surgery is done promptly, these children usually have an excellent chance of having good vision.

Secondary glaucomas

These can develop as complications of other medical conditions. These types of glaucomas are sometimes associated with eye surgery or advanced cataracts, eye injuries, certain eye tumors, or uveitis (eye inflammation). Pigmentary glaucoma occurs when pigment from the iris flakes off and blocks the mesh-work, slowing fluid drainage.

Glaucoma is detected through a comprehensive dilated eye exam that includes the following:


A severe form, called neovascular glaucoma, is linked to diabetes.

Corticosteroid drugs used to treat eye inflammations and other diseases can trigger glaucoma in some people. Treatments include, but are not limited to, medicines, laser surgery, or conventional surgery.

Glaucoma Awareness Information

Green awareness ribbonGreen awareness ribbons and the color green are symbols for Glaucoma Awareness. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. World Glaucoma Week (WGW) - March 8-14, 2015 - A joint global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patients Association (WGPA), to raise awareness of glaucoma, what it does to sight, and how it might affect you. Currently, more than 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.

Quick Facts: Glaucoma

Statistics: Glaucoma Type

Open-angle glaucoma accounts for 90% of glaucoma cases in the United States. It is painless and does not have acute attacks. The only signs are gradually progressive visual field loss, and optic nerve changes (increased cup-to-disc ratio on fundoscopic examination).

Closed-angle glaucoma accounts for less than 10% of glaucoma cases in the United States, but as many as half of glaucoma cases in other nations (particularly Asian countries). About 10% of patients with closed angles present with acute angle closure crises characterized by sudden ocular pain, seeing halos around lights, red eye, very high intraocular pressure (>30 mmHg), nausea and vomiting, suddenly decreased vision, and a fixed, mid-dilated pupil. It is also associated with an oval pupil in some cases. Acute angle closure is an emergency.

Latest Glaucoma Publications

1 : My Eyes Seem to be Getting Worse as I Get Older - Should I See an Eye Doctor : American Academy of Ophthalmology.

2 : Glaucoma Triggers May Include Temperatures, Sun Exposure and Gender : Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

3 : Glaucoma Medication Expenditure Appears to Have Increased : JAMA and Archives Journals.

4 : Early Glaucoma Detection Vital to Preventing Blindness : Dr. Mark Lynn & Associates PLLC.

5 : Genetic Screening and Glaucoma : American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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