Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that lead to progressive damage to the optic nerve. People with glaucoma can lose nerve tissue, resulting in vision loss.
In the most common form of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, the fluid pressure inside the eye increases. This increase in pressure may cause progressive damage to the optic nerve and loss of nerve fibers. Vision loss may result. Advanced glaucoma may even cause blindness.
The following factors can increase the risk for developing glaucoma:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Medical conditions
- Physical injuries to the eye
- Other eye-related risk factors
- Corticosteroid use
There are many theories about the causes of glaucoma, but the exact cause is unknown. Although the disease is usually associated with an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye, other theories include lack of adequate blood supply to the nerve. Following are the different types of glaucoma and their potential causes.
- Primary open-angle glaucoma
- Angle-closure glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma
- Normal-tension or low-tension glaucoma
Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Because glaucoma is a progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time, a change in the appearance of the optic nerve, a loss of nerve tissue, and a corresponding loss of vision confirm the diagnosis. Some optic nerves may resemble nerves with glaucoma, but the patients may have no other risk factors or signs of glaucoma. These patients should have routine comprehensive exams to monitor any changes.
Want to find out more?
Visit the American Optometric Association Website