In short, glaucoma is a build up of pressure within the eye that causes vision loss and blindness by damaging the nerve in the back of your eye called the optic nerve. People who have elevated eye pressure are at increased risk for glaucoma. But each type of glaucoma is different — and for some, experts are still learning about the causes.
Most people are unaware they have symptoms until they start losing their eye sight, and often do not notice any vision loss right away.
Diagnosing glaucoma is not always easy, and careful evaluation of the optic nerve continues to be essential to diagnosis and treatment. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. A second opinion is always wise if you or your doctor become concerned about your diagnosis or your progress.
If you have high risk factors for glaucoma such as; diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of glaucoma, you should see an eye doctor now and determine how often to have subsequent eye exams.
Other Risk Factors
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type in the United States, where 9 in 10 people with glaucoma, have the open-angle type.
Over time, the pressure damages the optic nerve, which affects your vision. This can eventually lead to blindness — in fact, open-angle glaucoma causes almost 2 in 10 cases of blindness in African Americans. People with high blood pressure are also at higher risk for this type.
This is a type of open-angle glaucoma that happens in people with normal eye pressure. About 1 in 3 people with open-angle glaucoma have the normal-tension type.
You may be at higher risk for normal-tension glaucoma if you:
Also called narrow-angle or acute glaucoma, is a medical emergency. Go to the doctor or emergency room immediately if you suddenly have:
In this type of glaucoma, the outer edge of the iris (the colored part of your eye) blocks fluid from draining out of the front of the eye. The fluid builds up quickly, causing a sudden increase in eye pressure. If it’s not treated, angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness in just a few days.
There is another type of angle-closure glaucoma. Called slow or chronic angle-closure glaucoma, symptoms happen more slowly or might not cause any symptoms. The doctor treats this type with medicines, laser treatments, or surgery.
About 1 in 10,000 babies in the United States have Congenital glaucoma. This defect (problem) in the eye keeps fluid from draining normally. In these cases, you will usually notice the symptoms right away. Children with congenital glaucoma:
Sometimes glaucoma is caused by another medical condition — this is called secondary glaucoma, which includes-
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