Types of Glaucoma

The two main types of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma in the United States. As a person ages the drainage channels of the eye can become less efficient causing the pressure in the eye to gradually increase. This slow rise in pressure over time causes damage to the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. In some cases, as a person ages their optic nerve can become damaged at even normal eye pressures, this is called Normal Tension Glaucoma. Usually, open-angle glaucoma has not symptoms and the vision remains normal in the early stages of the disease.

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Closed-angle glaucoma is more common among people who are hyperopic or farsighted. In these eye, the iris (the colored part of the eye) is closer to the drainage channels and can move forward and completely block the drains. This cause the fluid to build up in the eye leading to increase eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. The symptoms of an acute closed-angle glaucoma attack include: blurred vision, severe eye pain, headache, and nausea and vomiting. However, about two thirds of patients with closed-angle glaucoma develop it slowly without any symptoms prior to having an acute attack. Laser treatment can both prevent and stop an acute closed-angle glaucoma attack.

Risk Factors for Glaucoma

  • Age
  • High eye pressure
  • Steroid use
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African or Hispanic ancestry
  • Hyperopic (farsighted)
  • Severe myopia (very nearsighted)
  • Eye trauma
  • Thin corneas
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Poor circulation (Raynaud’s disease)
  • Pre-existing thinning of optic nerve

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