The Different Types of Glaucoma, Explained

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on August 4, 2017

glaucoma treatment

Glaucoma is an eye condition that can be severe enough to cause blindness. Many Americans have it, but don’t actually exhibit any symptoms so they are forgoing treatment. In fact, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, it is estimated that a staggering 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, but only half of those people have been diagnosed by a eye surgeon.

Simply put, glaucoma is when the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is damaged, causing the potential for blindness. There are plenty of different types of glaucoma, and it is important to understand their differences in order to obtain the correct glaucoma treatment for your condition. Here we explain the different types of glaucoma so you can be prepared to seek the proper treatment route.

Open-Angle Glaucoma
This is the most common type of glaucoma, and it encompasses about 90% of all glaucoma cases nationwide.

Caused by: the slow clogging of the drainage canals around the eye, which increases eye pressure.

Rate of development:Develops very slowly, and is a permanent condition.

Effect on the eye:A wide, open angle between the iris and the cornea, which means less light is entering the eye, causing blindness.

Symptoms:Unfortunately, there are no noticeable symptoms.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma
In this case of glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged despite the eye pressure not being too high. This baffles most eye doctors as usually high eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve go hand in hand.

Caused by:The causes of normal-tension glaucoma are unknown.

Rate of development: Develops very slowly, over a long period of time.

Effect on the eye:Peripheral vision is lost completely.

Symptoms: Since doctors know so little about NTG, the symptoms are relatively unknown. However, there are some studies that believe NTG is genetic.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma
This is a less common form of glaucoma, and is caused when the distance between the iris and cornea close rather than separate in open-angle glaucoma.

Caused by: The eye’s drainage canals being blocked.

Rate of development: Incredibly quickly.

Effect on the eye: The area between the iris and cornea closes, causes blurred vision.

Symptoms:Sudden eye pain, nausea, and problems seeing.

While these three types of glaucoma differ exponentially, many eye doctors prescribe glaucoma treatment in the form of medicated eye drops and laser eye surgery to help drain the excess fluid and return the eye back to normal.

If you have any additional questions about glaucoma, please contact our specialists today.


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