Glaucoma is not one medical condition, but rather a general term for several types of ocular disorders. Glaucoma, if left untreated, can result in damage to the optic nerve which, in turn, can lead to vision loss. Most cases of glaucoma are a result of high pressure inside the eye itself, which is known as intraocular pressure. Listed below are the eight different types of Glaucoma, and what you need to know about each variation.
Seen in approximately 90% of all diagnosis of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma typically develops very slowly and without any types of observable symptoms. It occurs when the trabecular meshwork (which is the tissue around the base of the cornea) becomes blocked. The trabecular meshwork drains the fluid, also known as the aqueous humor, from the front of the eye. When this fails to drain the pressure in the eye gradually builds and vision is slowly reduced over years. The cornea and the iris have a wide angle of separation, which is critical in diagnosis.
Also caused by drainage problems with the trabecular meshwork, angle-closure glaucoma occurs when there is a narrow space or angle between the cornea and the iris. The contact of the iris with the trabecular meshwork traps the fluid in the eye, leading to a rapid increase in intraocular pressure. This can cause sudden pain, redness of the eye and vision problems such as seeing halos around objects. This type of glaucoma can develop very quickly.
Relatively rare in nature, congenital glaucoma is present at birth. A child has malformed or incomplete development of the trabecular meshwork that prevents the fluid from draining from the eye.
As the name implies, this is glaucoma that is caused by another condition such as infections, tumors or disease. The optic nerve is damaged because of the high intraocular pressure, leading to vision loss. It can be diagnosed as open-angle or angle-closure, depending on what happens within the eye itself as the pressure builds.
Sometimes the actual pigment cells in the iris can detach and travel through the aqueous humor. If they happen to lodge in the canals of the trabecular meshwork they clog the fluid drainage and lead to increasing pressure in the eye.
Irido Corneal Endothelial Syndrome
Very rare in occurrence, this form of glaucoma occurs when cells from the cornea grow over the drainage system and form a blockage. The randomly growing cells can actually completely block all drainage and can spread relatively quickly once the process begins.
This uncommon form of glaucoma occurs when cells shed from the lens of the eye become trapped in the drainage canals and form blockages. This is usually a secondary type of condition that is found with individuals with open-angle glaucoma.
People who have a history of injury to the eye or optic nerve can develop traumatic glaucoma. The diagnosis of glaucoma can occur very quickly after the injury or it may take years for the symptoms to develop.
Knowing the Risk Factors
Anyone can develop glaucoma but some groups are at greater risk. Those at higher risk include African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, people over 60 years of age, and those with a history of glaucoma in the family. Other health conditions including nearsightedness, injury to the eye and problems with hypertension may also be contributing factors.
Regular eye check-ups and reporting any vision problems, pain in the eye or other symptoms are essential to early detection and treatment of all types of glaucoma.
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