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What is Glaucoma?

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: ATRIO Health Plans
What is Glaucoma?

Understanding Glaucoma

Contrary to popular belief, glaucoma isn’t a singular condition but a term used to refer to a group of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss or even blindness. In light of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, the health experts at ATRIO are here to shed some light on this fairly common but misunderstood eye health issue.

Types of Glaucoma

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, making up roughly 90% of glaucoma cases. With open-angle glaucoma, there is a wide, open angle between the iris and cornea. This form of glaucoma develops slowly and is caused by the eye’s drainage canals becoming clogged, resulting in harmful eye pressure.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Similar to open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is caused by blocked drainage canals. However, there is a narrowed or even closed angle between the iris and cornea. This form of glaucoma also comes on rather quickly, and symptoms are noticeable.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

With normal-tension glaucoma (NTG), the optic nerve is damaged even though eye pressure is not abnormally high. Oftentimes, there is no clear cause for this type of optic nerve damage.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma affects babies who have improper or incomplete development of their eye drainage canals during fetal development.

Other Types of Glaucoma

Some other, less common types of glaucoma include:

  • IridoCorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
  • Neovascular Glaucoma
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma
  • Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma
  • Secondary Glaucoma
  • Traumatic Glaucoma
  • Uveitic Glaucoma

Common Signs & Symptoms

For many people living with glaucoma, there are no symptoms until vision loss has begun to progress. Although glaucoma can go with little to no warning signs in its early stages, there are several signs and symptoms that can be a cause for concern.

Commonly reported glaucoma symptoms include:

  • Eye pressure
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Sing rainbow-colored halos around lights

Risk factors

While everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma, the following factors can increase that risk:

  • Having close family members with glaucoma
  • Having high eye pressure
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Eye injuries
  • Long-term steroid usage
  • Having corneas that are thin at the center
  • Thinning of the optic nerve
  • Having diabetes
  • Suffering from migraines
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Circulation problems

If you think you may be at an increased risk of developing glaucoma, be sure to speak with your primary care doctor about your concerns.