Glaucoma the general term used to describe a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. It’s the most common form of optic nerve damage leading to vision loss. In most cases, fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. Some people have normal eye pressure and still get glaucoma. Untreated or poorly controlled glaucoma can lead to permanent and irreversible vision loss and blindness.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults.
Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage.
Because vision loss due to glaucoma can’t be recovered, it’s important to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your eye pressure so a diagnosis can be made in its early stages and treated appropriately. If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed or prevented. If you have the condition, you’ll generally need treatment for the rest of your life.
Glaucoma can affects people of all races and genders, but the risk increases with age. African Americans and Latinos are much more likely to get glaucomaa than other races, and they tend to develop the disease earlier in life. Asian and Inuit populations are also more susceptible to a specific form of glaucomaa known as angle closure glaucoma.
There are several types of glaucoma, including:
Open-angle: This type is the most common, affecting up to 90% of Americans who have glaucoma. It occurs when tiny deposits build up in the eye’s drainage canals, slowly clogging them. The canals appear to be open and functioning normally. But over months or years, the deposits cause fluid to build up and put pressure on the optic nerve. The disease can go unnoticed for years because most people don’t have symptoms.
Closed-angle: Also called angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, this rare type often comes on suddenly (acute). It occurs when the angle between the iris (the colored part of the eye that controls light exposure) and cornea (clear outer part of the eye) is too narrow. As a result, the drainage canals become blocked, preventing aqueous fluid from leaving the eye and causing an acute elevation in eye pressure. Symptoms, including eye pain and headaches, can be severe and require immediate medical attention.
Normal-tension: As many as one in three people have optic nerve damage even when eye pressure is normal or not very high. Experts aren’t sure what causes normal-tension glaucomaa, which is also called normal-pressure or low-tension glaucomaa. This type is more common among Asians and Asian Americans.
Congenital: Some babies are born with drainage canals that don’t form properly in the womb. Your healthcare provider might notice a baby’s glaucomaa symptoms at birth. Or signs may become noticeable during childhood. This condition is also known as childhood, infantile or pediatric glaucomaa.
Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision, frequently in both eyes
Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma
Nausea and vomiting
Halos around lights