Glaucoma has no symptoms. It is not painful. The vision loss is slow and at the edges, or periphery, of vision. It is impossible to detect without an eye exam.
3 Types of Glaucoma: Open-Angle, Narrow Angle, & Normal Tension
The three most common types of glaucoma include primary Open-Angle, Low or Normal Tension, and Narrow Angle. Let’s review each of them below.
Primary Open Angle
Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. There is still some disagreement on what actually causes POAG, if it is an issue with the eye making too much aqueous fluid, or the fluid not being able to drain out. Most likely it is a combination of both.
The “angle” in the eye refers to the structure between the iris and the cornea, where a good portion of the eye’s aqueous fluid leaves the eye. If there is a problem with this structure, it can prevent the fluid properly draining, causing increased eye pressure.
Normal or Low Tension Glaucoma occurs in the presence of normal or low eye pressure. Again, the exact cause is still up for debate, but diabetes, low blood pressure and sleep apnea are all risk factors. It’s believed that the optic nerve itself is weak, and cannot withstand even a normal or low amount of eye pressure.
Glaucoma is a treatable disease. Treatment always involves obtaining a lower or healthy eye pressure. This healthy pressure is different for everyone, and will be determined by the eye doctor. Initial treatment usually involves the use of a single eye drop once a day. Additional drops may be added as needed. If drops alone are not sufficient to control the disease, laser treatment or surgery may be recommended. We often initiate treatment to prevent it in patients who are at unusually high risk of getting the disease down the road.