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Glaucoma is a collection of diseases of the eye that cause damage to the optic nerve, which is the nerve that sends information to the brain to allow us to see. Increased pressure in the eye is the means by which glaucoma works. This is called increased intraocular pressure.

Glaucoma makes up the second most common type of blindness in the US. There are a total of four types of glaucoma, which include open angle or chronic glaucoma, angle closure or acute glaucoma, congenital glaucoma or secondary glaucoma. All can cause vision loss if left untreated.

Fluid is made in the eye and causes it to have the turgor it has. Fluid is made in the back part of the eye and passes through to the front of the eye through the anterior chamber angle. Anything that slows or blocks the fluid from passing out of the eye will cause pressure to build up within the eye, known as intraocular pressure. The pressure tends to cause damage to the optic nerve by pushing on the nerve.

The most common type of glaucoma is open angle glaucoma, which is chronic. The pressure increases slowly over time and pushes on the optic nerve and retina of the eye. Open angle glaucoma runs in families so if you have a parent or grandparent with the disease, you should be tested frequently. It is of the highest risk in African-Americans.

Angle-closure or acute glaucoma happens when there is a sudden blockage of the exit of the aqueous humour of the fluid. This causes a severe, painful and quick rise in pressure within the eye. It is an emergency situation that is quite painful. If you have had the condition in one eye, you are likely to get it in the other eye. Dilation drops and other medication can trigger an acute attack of glaucoma.

Congenital glaucoma is a hereditary condition that is present at birth. It results from the inherited abnormal fluid outflow development in the fluid outflow channels of the eye.

Secondary glaucoma is caused by corticosteroid use, systemic diseases and certain eye diseases such as uveitis. It can occur quickly or it can occur slowly, depending on the situation.

The symptoms of glaucoma depend on the type of glaucoma. With open angle glaucoma, there are often no symptoms with the exception of vision loss. There is a gradual loss of vision, beginning with peripheral vision.

In angle closure glaucoma, the symptoms can come and go or can steadily become worse over time. It can be a sudden and severe pain in the affected eye. The vision can be cloudy or just decreased. There can be nausea or vomiting associated with this form of glaucoma. Lights have a rainbow halo around them and the eye is often red in colour.

Doctors can test for glaucoma during an eye examination. The pupil is often dilated and the doctor examines the inside of the eye. The doctor will use tonometry in order to check the intraocular pressure although it will be normal in 25 percent of cases. Normal tension glaucoma represents glaucoma and damage to the optic nerve in spite of a normal eye pressure.

Tests to check for glaucoma include a gonioscopy exam which checks the outflow channels of the eye. Tonometry tests the eye pressure. Imaging of the optic nerve can show characteristic damages. Pupillary reflex responses can be evaluated. Slit lamp evaluation is possible and doctors can test the visual acuity or the visual fields for defects.

Treatment of glaucoma includes anything that can lower the pressure of the eye. Surgery is common in some types of glaucoma to reduce the pressure. Eye drops can be used to reduce the pressure. IV medications are used to treat angle-closure medications along with emergency surgery, known as an iridotomy. This procedure opens a new channel in the eye so the fluid doesn't build up within the back of the eye.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Glaucoma solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Glaucoma solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here