Glaucoma refers to a group of related eye disorders that all cause damage to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma usually has few or no initial symptoms.
In most cases, glaucoma is associated with higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye — a condition called ocular hypertension. But it also can occur when intraocular pressure (IOP) is normal. If untreated or uncontrolled, glaucoma first causes peripheral vision loss and eventually can lead to blindness.
The two major categories of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and narrow angle glaucoma. The “angle” in both cases refers to the drainage angle inside the eye that controls the outflow of the watery fluid (aqueous) that is continually being produced inside the eye.
If the aqueous can access the drainage angle, the glaucoma is known as open angle glaucoma. If the drainage angle is blocked and the aqueous cannot reach it, the glaucoma is known as narrow angle glaucoma.
Variations of OAG include: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), normal-tension glaucoma (NTG), pigmentary glaucoma, pseudoexfoliation glaucoma, secondary glaucoma and congenital glaucoma. Variations of narrow angle glaucoma include include acute angle closure glaucoma, chronic angle closure glaucoma, and neovascular glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
- Primary open-angle glaucoma:- This common type of glaucoma gradually reduces your peripheral vision without other symptoms. By the time you notice it, permanent damage already has occurred. If your IOP remains high, the destruction caused by POAG can progress until tunnel vision develops, and you will be able to see only objects that are straight ahead. Ultimately, all vision can be lost, causing blindness.
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma:- Also called narrow-angle glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma produces sudden symptoms such as eye pain, headaches, halos around lights, dilated pupils, vision loss, red eyes, nausea and vomiting. These signs constitute a medical emergency. The attack may last for a few hours, and then return again for another round, or it may be continuous without relief. Each attack can cause progressively more vision loss.
- Normal-tension glaucoma:- Like POAG, normal-tension glaucoma (also called normal-pressure glaucoma, low-tension glaucoma or low-pressure glaucoma) is a type of open-angle glaucoma that can cause visual field loss due to optic nerve damage. But in normal-tension glaucoma, the eye’s IOP remains in the normal range. The cause of normal-tension glaucoma is not known. But many doctors believe it is related to poor blood flow to the optic nerve. Normal-tension glaucoma is more common in those who are Japanese, are female and/or have a history of vascular disease.
- Pigmentary glaucoma:- This rare form of glaucoma is caused by clogging of the drainage angle of the eye by pigment that has broken loose from the iris, reducing the rate of aqueous outflow from the eye. Over time, an inflammatory response to the blocked angle damages the drainage system.
- Secondary glaucoma:- Symptoms of chronic glaucoma following an eye injury could indicate secondary glaucoma, which also may develop with presence of eye infection, inflammation, a tumor or enlargement of the lens due to a cataract.
- Congenital glaucoma:- This inherited form of glaucoma is present at birth, with 80 percent of cases diagnosed by age one. These children are born with narrow angles or some other defect in the drainage system of the eye.