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Glaucoma Center

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a vision-threatening disease that causes damage to the optic nerve, typically from the intraocular pressure being too high for the health of the eye. The eye pressure is high in glaucoma patients due to the drainage system, in the inner corner of the eye between the cornea and the iris, being blocked.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and involves progressive and irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment, you and your doctor can help to preserve your vision.

Main Types of Glaucoma

There are two basic types of glaucoma which are open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of glaucoma which occurs in approximately 90% of those with the disease.

It is a chronic condition, meaning that it develops slowly over time. In POAG, intraocular pressure increases because of improper drainage of aqueous humor from the eye.

No symptoms or pain are typically noted in the early stages, which is a reason why it is known as the “silent thief of sight.” Therefore, early detection through our extensive examinations is important.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

  • The gradual loss of peripheral vision, typically noted in both eyes
  • Tunnel vision (noted in advanced stages)

Angle-closure glaucoma (also known as closed-angle glaucoma) is much rarer, occurring in less than 10% of those with the disease.

Unlike POAG, in those who have angle-closure glaucoma, the eye pressure rises very quickly. This can occur due to drainage canals being blocked by the iris (similar to something covering the sink drain).

Other Potential Symptoms of Glaucoma

Generally in combination with gradual vision loss or tunnel vision.

  • Severe eye pain
  • Nausea (accompanying eye pain)
  • Haloes/rainbows around lights
  • Extremely blurred vision
  • Reddening of eye

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

  • People over age 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African ancestry, Asian or Japanese heritage
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Thin cornea
  • Nearsightedness
  • Past injuries to the eyes
  • Steroid use
  • Have diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation, or other health problems affecting the whole body

Glaucoma Treatment

The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower pressure in your eye. Treatment is determined on the specific type of glaucoma, the severity of the disease, and how well it responds to treatment.

Though the damage done from glaucoma cannot be reversed, medicated eye drops, laser treatments, and surgical intervention can help stop further damage. Medicated eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery can all work to improve the flow of fluid out of the eye therefore lowering eye pressure.