There are five types of glaucoma to be worried about. They vary in severity and the recommended treatment. The underlying mechanism of this eye disease is a build-up of pressure from fluid within the eye (interocular pressure) that cannot drain properly. Eventually, this pressure may build up enough to cause damage to the optic nerve. When severe, this interocular pressure may cause blindness.Glaucoma treatment is necessary to avoid serious injury to the eye.
The five types of glaucoma are:
- Congenital: This is an inherited disorder and present from birth.
- Pigmentary: This is rare and caused when the pigment (the layer containing the eye color) clogs the eye’s drainage system.
- Secondary: This type is caused by an infection, tumor, cataract damage, or other inflammation within the eye.
- Angle-closure: This is a very severe type. It comes on suddenly, with symptoms such as severe pain in the eyes, having a massive headache, blurred vision, nausea, and seeing a halo around lights that are viewed. This type of glaucoma requires emergency care or it may result in permanent blindness.
- Primary open-angle: This is the most common form of glaucoma. It starts without symptoms and then the internal eye pressure gradually builds up over time. It requires long-term treatment.
Congenital glaucoma is usually discovered during a routine eye exam for babies or children. It rarely occurs, in one of 10,000 babies. This condition is treated by corrective surgery.
Pigmentary glaucoma occurs more frequently in men than in women. It is usually diagnosed when a man is in his twenties or thirties. It happens when a man is myopic, which means nearsighted. A myopic condition makes things that are nearer seem more clear than things farther away that seem blurred. This type of glaucoma is treated by medications for miotic therapy. This condition might be improved through laser eye surgery; however, the procedure is still experimental at this time.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by having other eye problems. The glaucoma treatment requires dealing with the other problems such as clearing up an eye infection, removing a tumor, or undergoing cataract surgery. Treatments include medications, laser surgery, or eye surgery. Once these other problems are treated, the secondary glaucoma is usually reduced or eliminated.
Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency and should be treated immediately by laser or eye surgery.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. It is the leading cause of blindness that occurs over time. There is no cure. Treatment is in the form of various medications that help reduce the internal eye pressure. The medications used include alpha-agonists, beta-blockers, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and prostaglandin analogs. Your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will recommend a suitable prescription drug therapy based on your diagnosis.
Glaucoma in all its forms is a very serious eye disease. Regular eye exams can discover glaucoma. Eye exams are important because treatment through laser surgery or eye surgery may be able to repair the problem. If surgery is not possible, then taking medication helps slow the disease progression and avoid blindness.
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