Detecting glaucoma at an early, treatable stage is one important reason to have thorough eye examinations regularly.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
There are several factors that increase the risk of developing glaucoma, including:
- Being over 60
- Being of particular descent, such as African-American or Asian
- Having a family history of glaucoma
- Having elevated intraocular pressure
- Having poor vision or other eye disorders or injuries
- Having certain medical conditions, like diabetes
- Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids for prolonged periods
Patients with risk factors for the disorder should be especially vigilant about having regular eye examinations.
Causes of Glaucoma
Certain diseases or conditions can contribute to the development of glaucoma. These include:
- Increased pressure within the eye
- Severe eye infection
- Injury to the eye
- Blocked blood vessels
- Inflammatory conditions of the eye
Glaucoma is considered primary if its origin is unknown and secondary if it results from another medical condition.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma. The two major types are primary open-angle glaucoma, in which fluid drains too slowly from the drainage channels (trabecula) of the eye, and angle-closure (narrow-angle) glaucoma, which occurs when the trabecula become blocked.
Other types of glaucoma, which occur much more rarely, include:
- Low Tension Glaucoma
- Congenital Glaucoma
- Secondary Glaucoma
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
- Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma
Symptoms of Glaucoma
It is important to remember that patients with early stage glaucoma are most often asymptomatic. When symptoms occur, they vary depending on the type of glaucoma and can occur in one eye or both eyes. The symptoms of open-angle glaucoma include:
- Dim or blurred vision
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Tunnel vision (at advanced stages)
The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma encompass systemic, as well as eye symptoms, including:
- Severe eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden visual disturbance
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Red eyes
Either type of glaucoma may be a primary or secondary disorder.