Glaucoma refers to a number of conditions that all damage the optic nerve. Increased pressure in the eye is one of the ways the optic nerve is damaged. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness.

Often called the "sneak thief" of sight, most forms of glaucoma do not produce symptoms until vision is already severely damaged.

What Are The Risk Factors For Glaucoma?

Although glaucoma is most common in adults over the age of 40, susceptibility is not determinde by age alone. There is a genetic component, and those with a family history of the disease and of African descent are at increased risk.

Those with hypertension, diabetes and other systemic diseases are also at risk. Studies have shown individuals at greater risk for glaucoma may fit one or more of the following criteria:

  • Over the age of 60
  • A family history of the disease
  • Diabetes or hypertension
  • Farsightedness

Since early detection is critical to avoiding permanent loss of vision, individuals who possess any of the non-age-related risk factors should have regular examinations by an ophthalmologist every one or two years.

Population should have glaucoma evaluation every two or three years after the age of 40, and every one or two years after the age of 60.

Open-angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form and initially presents with no symptoms. The pressure in the eye builds up gradually. At some point, the optic nerve is damaged and peripheral vision is lost.

Without treatment, total blindness will occur. Similary, people with normal-tension glaucoma will not experience any sumptoms until they begin to lose peripheral vision.

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Acute closed-angle glaucoma is the result of a sudden blockage in the normal outflow of eye fluid from the eye. Symptoms may include severe pain, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision.

Chronic closed-angle glaucoma progresses more slowly and the symptoms are much more subtle, much like in angle-closure glaucoma.

Acute-Angle Glaucoma

  • Aging
  • Genetic
  • Anatomical abnormalities
  • Metabolic stresses of the optic nerve

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

  • Medications that dilate the pupil
  • Anatomically narrow drainage angle
  • Complete closure of the angle can be induced
  • Naturally, when the eye dilates in low light

Normal-tension Glaucoma

  • Reduced blood flow to the optic nerve
  • Damage to the optic nerve
  • Genetic
  • Optic nerve cell death
  • Metabolic damage to the optic nerve

Congenital Glaucoma

  • Anatomic defects in the drainage angle

Secondary Glaucoma

  • Previous injuries
  • Intraocular condition
  • Certain medications

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Acute closure of the peripheral drainage angle, characterised by a sudden increase in intraocular pressure.

Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The iris obstructs the eye’s drainage angle in a slow, progressive fashion.

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

The drainage angle is open but does not allow fluid to drain adequately for unknown reasons.

Pseudo-exfoliation Glaucoma

Deposits of a fibrillary material obstruct drainage of fluid from the eye.

Pigmantary Glaucoma

Pigment dislodged from the iris obstructs the eye’s drainage structures.

Angle-Recession Glaucoma

Scar tissue from blunt trauma obstructs the outflow of fluid.

Neovascular Glaucoma

Various disorders cause blood vessels to proliferate on the iris and in the eye’s drainage structures.

Congenital Glaucoma

The eye’s drainage channels form abnormally in utero

  • Eye drops (or combination of eye drops and pills) to reduce intraocular pressure. Several different classes of glaucoma medications are available to provide pressure reduction including beta blockers, prostaglandin analogues, alpha adrenergic agaonists, miotic, epinephrine compounds, and oral and topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. These medications work by either reducing the rate at which fluid in the eye is produced or increase the outflow of fluid from the eye.
  • Laser treatment to open the drainage angle and reduce intraocular pressure.
  • Surgery to create a new passage for fluid drainage. Surgery is usually reserved for cases that cannot be controlled by medication.