Glaucoma is an eye condition that can be caused by too much pressure from fluid in the eye. This high pressure can damage the optic nerve. In a healthy eye, this fluid flows out of the eye through a mesh-like path. If this path is blocked, or does not allow good drainage of the fluid, pressure builds up, causing glaucoma. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure persists, glaucoma will worsen your sight. When left untreated, glaucoma can cause loss of sight in just a few years. The main cause of this blockage is not known, but doctors do know that it is often passed from parents to their children. Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to the eye, bad eye infection, blocked blood vessels in the eye, and sometimes eye surgery to correct another condition. Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but it may involve each eye to a different extent.
What Are The Types Of Glaucoma?
- Open-angle glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not drain properly from the eye.
- Angle-closure glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is less common, but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. This type of glaucoma is caused when a structure in the eye blocks the drainage path, preventing proper drainage.
Are You At Risk For Glaucoma?
Around 3 million Americans aged 40 years and older have glaucoma. Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 45, but it can also occur in young adults, children, and even infants. In African Americans, glaucoma occurs at an earlier age and with a greater loss of vision.
You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you:
- Are older than 45
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are of African-American or Latino descent
- People of Scandinavian, Inuit, or Japanese descent may be at risk of certain types of glaucoma
- Have severe nearsightedness (myopia)
- Have diabetes
- Use cortisone or steroids
- Have a previous eye injury
If you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma, have your eyes examined every 2 years before age 45 and once a year after age 45 or on the schedule recommended by your eye doctor. If you are not at risk for glaucoma, you should have your eyes examined every 2 to 4 years.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma?
- The following are symptoms of glaucoma, which often go unnoticed until an advanced stage of the disease.
- Vision loss
- Seeing halos around lights
- Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)
- Redness in the eye
- Eye that looks hazy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in the eye
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
An eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes through dilated pupils. The doctor will also check for eye pressure. Glaucoma tests are painless and take very little time.