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Types of Glaucoma

There are many types of Glaucoma but by far the most common is Primary Open Angle Glaucoma. Glaucoma treatment and Glaucoma symptoms will vary depending on the type of Glaucoma you have. The causes of Glaucoma are different dependent on which type you have and the treatment will vary accordingly.

 

Open Angle Glaucoma

This is by far the most common type of Glaucoma and typically happens slowly over many years, with most people being completely unaware that they have the condition. It occurs when the drainage channels (trabecular meshwork) become slightly blocked /narrowed meaning the fluid produced by the eye cannot drain out as well as normal, causing the pressure to build up. This pressure increase can lead to damage to your delicate optic nerve and consequently visual field loss/peripheral vision blind spots.

Read more about Eye pressure and the eye in our supplementary guide.


Normal /low Tension Glaucoma:

This is the most difficult Glaucoma to detect as the eye pressure remains normal, although the optic nerve is damaged. It is thought to be caused by problems with the blood flow to the optic nerve although the exact mechanism is not fully understood. Glaucoma Treatment is normally the same as it is for open angle glaucoma.


Acute / Closed Angle Glaucoma

This is a pretty rare type of Glaucoma and has completely different symptoms to that of Open Angle Glaucoma. In this type of Glaucoma, the pressure increases very quickly and the symptoms are very severe. The normal range of eye pressure in the healthy eye is between about 10 – 21mmHg (what eye pressures are measured in) but with Acute closed angle Glaucoma, the pressure can easily go to 50 and often higher. This occurs when the normal flow of fluid between the iris (coloured part of the eye) and the lens is blocked. The fluid then has nowhere to travel and the pressure rapidly increases.
Acute closed angle Glaucoma is classed as an emergency as blindness could result if treatment isn’t carried out quickly. The symptoms of closed angle glaucoma are extremely severe and so most people seek medical advice immediately.


Secondary Glaucoma

This simply refers to a Glaucoma that is secondary (caused by) to another condition or injury. Various injuries and other eye conditions such as Iritis, Retinal vein occlusion and retinal detachment can all lead to secondary Glaucoma.


Pigmentary Glaucoma

This is a rare form of Glaucoma where small specks of pigment flake off the Iris (coloured part of eye) and fall into the Aqueous humour (fluid inside your eye). The Iris is mostly made up of pigment and this tendency for the iris to shed pigment is called pigment dispersion syndrome. In most cases this does not cause Glaucoma and most people don’t even know they have got the condition. However in some cases, the pigment that is released can cause blockages in the drainage channels of the eyes (Trabecular Meshwork) and the pressure can slowly increase. This is called pigmentary Glaucoma.
If you have pigment dispersion syndrome it is important to have regular eye checks as one of the early signs – Krukenbergs spindle can be easily picked up by your optician. These are pigment deposits in the cornea in your eye.

Read more about Eye pressure and the eye in our supplementary guide.

 

This information is provided purely as a guide and in no way constitutes medical advice. If you are in doubt about the health of your eyes you should consult your doctor or optometrist.

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