Glaucoma often happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This build of fluid causes the eye pressure to increase, which can damage the optic nerve.
There are two major types of glaucoma.
1. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- This is the most common type of glaucoma.
- It occurs gradually, as the fluid which normally drains from the eye builds up. This is thought to be due to a blockage in the structures that drain fluid from the eye.
- The eye pressure builds, and can cause damage to the optic nerve.
- This leads to a painless, gradual loss of vision and may not be noticed.
2. Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- This is a much more rare type of glaucoma
- It occurs when the iris (colored-part of the eye) is in too close contact to the structures that drain fluid from the eye
- The eye pressure rapidly builds up if the drainage angle gets fully blocked
- If it happens suddenly (acute angle closure), this can cause redness, eye pain, blurry vision, headache, and nausea/vomiting
- This is an emergency and your ophthalmologist should be contacted immediately
- Some people develop angle-closure slowly (chronic angle closure). This can often only be detected by regular eye examinations
Most types of glaucoma, except acute angle closure glaucoma, are painless and silent. This is one of the reasons we recommend annual eye examinations for most of our patients over a certain age. Besides genetics or family history, age is one of the major risk factors for glaucoma.