Woman having her eyes examined at optometrist's office.


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases where fluid builds up at the front of the eye, putting pressure on the optic nerve and damaging it. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss or blindness.

There are two types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

The most common of the two and gradually occurs when fluid does not drain from the eye well. It’s often painless with no immediate vision changes.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Otherwise known as “closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma,” angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris is too close to the eye’s drainage angle and ends up blocking it. If fully blocked, eye pressure rapidly rises, resulting in an acute attack. This requires immediate attention as, if left untended, it can render the patient blind.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

There are no initial symptoms of open-angle glaucoma, but in later stages patchy blind spots in the peripheral or central vision will appear, as well as tunnel vision.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Patients should contact their eye care professional immediately if they experience the following:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Suddenly blurry vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights in eyesight

At-Risk Groups

Everyone is at risk to develop glaucoma. However there are some groups that are at a higher risk, such as:

  • People of African American descent
  • People over 60 years of age
  • People living with diabetes
  • People with a family history
  • People who are severely near-sighted

Treatment Options

Primary open-angle glaucoma can be treated with the following:

  • Medicine, including eye drops or pills
  • Laser trabeculoplasty
  • Surgery

Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.

Reduce the Risk of Glaucoma – Annual Eye Exams

Because there are few noticeable symptoms, without a comprehensive eye exam many people who have glaucoma do not know they have it. Most comprehensive eye examinations from an eye care professional include a number of procedures, including a measurement of the pressure in your eyes and a dilated eye examination, which together provide the best way to detect glaucoma. As early detection of glaucoma can prevent vision damage or blindness, getting your eyes checked with annual comprehensive eye exams is worth the effort.

Facts About Glaucoma – https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts (Last accessed 6/30/16)
What Is Glaucoma? – https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma (Last accessed 8/26/19)