Glaucoma damages your ocular nerve, which carries information from the eye to the brain and allows you to see. Damage to the ocular nerve results from increased pressure (ocular hypertension) in the eye in most cases of glaucoma. This condition is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. behind macular degeneration as well as the second leading cause of blindness in the world behind cataracts.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a general term for several related conditions. There are two main categories of glaucoma and each has several variations. The different kinds of glaucoma include:
- Open-Angle Glaucoma—Open-angle or wide-angle glaucoma is the most common type of this disease. Primary open-angle glaucoma alone affects 2–3 million Americans. Most types of wide-angle glaucoma cause tunnel vision and eventual blindness, and symptoms rarely occur until the vision has been permanently damaged. Glaucoma of this type causes your eye’s fluid to not flow properly through the eye’s drainage valve, despite being able to reach it, resulting in a buildup of fluid and pressure.
- Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- Normal-Tension Glaucoma
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
- Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma
- Secondary Glaucoma
- Congenital Glaucoma
- Narrow-Angle Glaucoma—If you have this type of glaucoma, also called angle-closure glaucoma, the fluid in your eye can’t reach the drainage valve at all. This type of the disease is less prominent in the U.S. but more common in other countries. The most common form of narrow-angle glaucoma causes sudden, serious symptoms that must be immediately treated by an optometrist. Like open-angle glaucoma, though, narrow-angle glaucoma doesn’t cause any symptoms and can affect permanent damage before you recognize any change in vision.
- Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Neovascular Glaucoma
There are several options for treating glaucoma depending on the severity of the disease when it’s detected. If glaucoma is detected early enough, we’ll prescribe medicated eye drops designed to reduce the pressure buildup in your eye. If these eye drops are used consistently, they may be able to control your condition. Since glaucoma is painless, however, it can be tempting to discontinue your treatment regimen. It’s vital to never stop a prescribed treatment plan for glaucoma without consulting us first.
Glaucoma that is further progressed or more severe requires a more serious treatment plan. We may recommend laser-eye surgery or glaucoma surgery, which is a micro-procedure that involves a filtering process called trabeculectomy to create a drainage flap. Drainage implant surgery is also an option for reducing eye pressure in some cases.