Types of Glaucoma
There are two main kinds:
Open-angle glaucoma. This is the most common type. Your doctor may also call it wide-angle glaucoma. The drain structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) looks fine, but fluid doesn’t flow out like it should.
The fluid inside your eye, called aqueous humor, usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked, or the eye is producing too much fluid, the liquid builds up. Sometimes, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it can be inherited, meaning it’s passed from parents to children.
Less-common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside your eye, and inflammatory conditions. It’s rare, but eye surgery to correct another condition can sometimes bring it on. It usually affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
It mostly affects adults over 40, but young adults, children, and even infants can have it. African American people tend to get it more often, when they’re younger, and with more vision loss.
You’re more likely to get it if you:
- Are of African American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
- Are over 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are nearsighted or farsighted
- Have poor vision
- Have diabetes
- Take certain steroid medications such as prednisone
- Take certain drugs for bladder control or seizures, or some over-the-counter cold remedies
- Have had an injury to your eye or eyes
- Have corneas that are thinner than usual
- Have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
- Have high eye pressure
Most people with open-angle glaucoma don’t have symptoms. If symptoms do develop, it’s usually late in the disease. That’s why glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of vision.” The main sign is usually a loss of side, or peripheral, vision.
Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma usually come on faster and are more obvious. Damage can happen quickly. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical care right away:
- Seeing halos around lights
- Vision loss
- Redness in your eye
- Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
- Upset stomach or vomiting
- Eye pain