What is glaucoma? What are the types of glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Chronic open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. Older patients are more likely to develop this type. Abnormally high eye pressure causes a slow, painless loss of the visual field which can eventually take the central vision and cause total blindness if left untreated.
There are many other less common types of glaucoma, including normal tension glaucoma where the pressure is not elevated, but the optic nerve is damaged. Another type of glaucoma is narrow angle glaucoma, which can be prevented from occurring by having a simple, office laser procedure.
Some patients with diabetes or retinal vascular disease can develop glaucoma due to abnormal growth of new blood vessels. This may reach the surface of the iris and close the drainage site of the eye, causing a sudden extreme increase in eye pressure.
How do we treat Glaucoma?
Treatment for glaucoma varies depending upon the type, although pressure-lowering drops are commonly used in most forms of glaucoma. If these do not lower the pressure enough, surgery may be required to lower the pressure in the eye.
The key to preventing vision loss for most forms of glaucoma is early detection before the optic nerve becomes irreversibly damaged. Because of this, anyone with a family history of glaucoma should have regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist.