An eye disease, characterized by increased pressure within the eye, that can result in blindness if not treated.
Anything that slows or blocks the flow of the natural fluid buildup out of the eye will cause pressure to build up. This pressure is called intraocular pressure (IOP) and in most cases of glaucoma, this pressure is high and causes damage to the major nerve in the eye, called the optic nerve.
There are four major types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle (chronic) glaucoma – this is the most common type of glaucoma where the increase in eye pressure occurs slowly over time.
- Angle-closure (acute) glaucoma – this is a very severe case of glaucoma and should be treated as an emergency condition. It occurs when the exit of the aqueous humor fluid is suddenly blocked, causing a quick painful rise in the pressure within the eye.
- Congenital glaucoma – this is a less common type of glaucoma that is hereditary. It typically shows symptoms like cloudiness of the font of the eye, tearing, sensitivity to light and enlargement of one eye.
- Secondary glaucoma – this is often a result of drug use and development of certain infections.
Treatment procedures for glaucoma try to relieve the pressure on the eye. Depending on the type of condition, a physician can either recommend medications (such as eye drops) or surgery. Common surgical procedures can include laser surgery to help open up the channels where the fluid needs to flow.