What are some other forms of glaucoma?
Although open-angle glaucoma is the most common form, some people have other forms of the disease.
In low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage and narrowed side vision occur unexpectedly in people with normal eye pressure. People with this form of the disease have the same types of treatment as open-angle glaucoma.
In closed-angle glaucoma, the fluid at the front of the eye cannot reach the angle and leave the eye because the angle gets blocked by part of the iris. People with this type of glaucoma have a sudden increase in pressure. Symptoms include severe pain and nausea as well as redness of the eye and blurred vision. This is a medical emergency. The patient needs immediate treatment to improve the flow of fluid. Without treatment, the eye can become blind in as little as one or two days. Usually, prompt laser surgery can clear the blockage and protect sight.
In congenital glaucoma, children are born with defects in the angle of the eye that slow the normal drainage of fluid. Children with this problem usually have obvious symptoms such as cloudy eyes, sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing. Surgery is usually the suggested treatment, because medicines may have unknown effects in infants and be difficult to give to them. The surgery is safe and effective. If surgery is done promptly, these children usually have an excellent chance of having good vision.
Secondary glaucomas can develop as a complication of other medical conditions. They are sometimes associated with eye surgery or advanced cataracts, eye injuries, certain eye tumors, or uveitis (eye inflammation). One type, known as pigmentary glaucoma, occurs when pigment from the iris flakes off and blocks the meshwork, slowing fluid drainage. A severe form, called neovascular glaucoma, is linked to diabetes. Also, corticosteroid drugs used to treat eye inflammations and other diseases–can trigger glaucoma in a few people. Treatment is with medicines, laser surgery, or conventional surgery.
What research is being done?
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is the Federal government’s lead agency for vision research. The NEI is supporting many research studies both in the laboratory and with patients. This research should provide better ways in the future to detect, treat, and prevent vision loss in people with glaucoma.
For instance, researchers recently found a gene that causes a form of glaucoma that starts at a young age. This is the first glaucoma gene ever located. This finding could help us learn more about how glaucoma damages the eye.
The NEI is also supporting clinical studies that will tell us more about who is likely to get glaucoma, when to treat people with increased pressure, and which treatment to use first.
What can you do to protect your vision?
If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day and see your eye care professional regularly.
You can also help protect the vision of family members and friends who may be at high risk for glaucoma–Blacks over age 40 and everyone over age 60. Encourage them to have an eye examination through dilated pupils every two years.
For more information about glaucoma, you may wish to contact:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
655 Beach Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-7424
American Optometric Association
243 Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63141
(The) Glaucoma Foundation
33 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
Glaucoma Research Foundation
200 Pine Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94104
National Eye Institute
2020 Vision Place
Bethesda, MD 20892-3655
Prevent Blindness America
500 East Remington Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
1 (800) 331 -2020
National Eye Institute
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 99-651