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Glaucoma: Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Risk Factors

eye diseases

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the nerve that sends visual information from your eye to your brain (optic nerve). Damage to this nerve is often associated with high blood pressure in your eye, but this condition can happen even with normal eye pressure. Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs, meaning you may not notice vision changes until the disease is in its advanced stages. For this reason, your trusted ophthalmologist Casper recommends regular eye exams that include measuring your eye pressure. With early detection, your specialist can help slow down or prevent vision loss.

What symptoms does glaucoma cause?

As mentioned above, glaucoma develops gradually and usually causes no symptoms until its later stages. The condition develops slowly over many years and affects the peripheral vision; these are the edges of your vision. For this reason, you are likely to know that you have glaucoma once your ophthalmologist detects the disease during a routine eye test. However, if you notice symptoms, they may include blurred vision and rainbow-colored circles around bright lights. These symptoms may affect both eyes but may be severe in one eye. Although rare, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause intense eye pain, red eye, headache, nausea and vomiting, tenderness around the eyes, halos around the eyes, and blurred vision.

Types of glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma, the most common variety, has many subtypes and tends to worsen gradually over time. It manifests as a result of clogged ocular drainage ducts. Other variations of this syndrome include acute angle closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma, and congenital glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma, which causes the pressure inside the eye to rise quickly, can be caused when the drainage in the eyes is suddenly blocked.

When glaucoma develops due to an underlying or pre-existing condition, such as inflammation of the eyes, it is referred to as secondary glaucoma. Another uncommon version of this disorder is congenital or childhood glaucoma, which can appear in very young children due to trauma, blocked drainage, or an underlying medical condition that harms the optic nerve. The disease known as normal-tension glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged even when the eye pressure is normal.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma can develop for several reasons, but most cases develop when the optic nerve gets damaged. Damage to the optic nerve is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye when fluid in your eyes can’t drain properly. Consequently, the pressure inside your eyes increases, damaging the nerve that connects your eye to your brain. As the nerve gradually deteriorates, you develop blind spots in your vision.

Risk factors for glaucoma

Anyone can get glaucoma, but certain factors make others more likely to develop this disease. For example, your risk of glaucoma increases as you get older or if you have a parent or sibling with the condition. Your ethnicity also determines your risk; people of Asian or Caribbean origin are at a higher risk of this eye disease. Having other medical conditions like short-sightedness, long-sightedness, or diabetes also increases your risk.

If you have questions about glaucoma treatment, consult your specialist at Cory Bergman, MD.

David Meyer
My name is David Meyer. I'm a health specialist and have created this website to help people learn more about its health.

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