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What are the Common Causes of Glaucoma?

Understanding what leads to glaucoma isn't straightforward, as it appears in several forms and doesn't have one clear cause. In this piece, we'll investigate some possible causes of glaucoma and what might make you more likely to get this eye condition.

Understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma typically affects the optic nerve and might not cause any pain, yet it can result in permanent loss of vision if not treated. Vision loss happens because increased pressure damages the optic nerve's delicate fibers. There are various forms of glaucoma, each defined by how the pressure in the eye increases. In the U.S., the most common is primary open-angle glaucoma, which occurs when the eye's fluid doesn't flow out as well as it should. On the other hand, angle-closure glaucoma makes it extremely difficult for the fluid to drain, worsening the problem.

Types of Glaucoma Disease

Conditions associated with glaucoma are mainly divided into two groups: primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma. Primary glaucoma develops on its own and its specific cause is often not well understood. Secondary glaucoma, however, usually stems from an already present health issue.

Primary Glaucoma Variations

Open-Angle Glaucoma: The most common type of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma's cause is not fully understood. It is believed to be related to increased pressure in the eye from not draining fluid properly.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma: Happens in people with normal eye pressure levels. Those of Asian descent, with a family history of this condition, who have had heart issues, or have low blood pressure are more likely to develop it.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma: Known also as narrow-angle or acute glaucoma, this urgent condition demands immediate care if symptoms like intense eye pain, nausea, eye redness, and blurred vision occur.

Congenital Glaucoma: Babies born with this type have a defect that blocks fluid drainage in the eye, leading to glaucoma. It's genetic, and signs include cloudy eyes, light sensitivity, more tears than normal, or larger-than-usual eyes.

Secondary Glaucoma Variations

Neovascular Glaucoma: This type of glaucoma develops when new blood vessels block the eye's drainage pathway, preventing fluid from flowing out properly. Often linked to diabetes or high blood pressure, symptoms can include pain, redness in the eye, and loss of vision.

Pigmentary Glaucoma: In this condition, iris pigment flakes off and clogs the eye's drainage system. It's most common in young, nearsighted Caucasian men. Signs include blurry vision or seeing rainbow-like rings around lights, especially after exercise.

Exfoliation Glaucoma: Also known as pseudo-exfoliation, this variant of open-angle glaucoma is caused by the accumulation of extra fibers that block eye fluid drainage. It often has a genetic basis, indicating a possibility of inheritance.

Uveitic Glaucoma: This form occurs in people with long-term eye inflammation, leading to increased pressure inside the eye. While the exact cause of uveitic glaucoma is not fully understood, it's thought that the inflammation could lead to scarring that affects fluid drainage.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Glaucoma

Some common risk factors that can lead to glaucoma include: 

  • Age 

  • Being of African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent 

  • A family history of glaucoma 

  • Diabetes 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Circulatory disease 

  • High refractive corrections 

  • Past eye injuries 

  • Long-term use of steroid medications, especially steroid eye drops

Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?

While pinpointing the exact triggers of glaucoma can be tricky, making it difficult to outline specific prevention strategies, it's wise to discuss the potential risks of long-term medication use, such as steroid eye drops or oral steroids, with your healthcare provider. It's also helpful to manage any existing health issues that could increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Actions like controlling diabetes, keeping blood pressure in a healthy range, and engaging in regular physical activity can make a difference.

Though preventing glaucoma outright may be a challenge, catching it early and starting treatment can halt vision loss in its tracks. Early-stage glaucoma is most treatable with methods like eye drops or laser therapy, often before any symptoms appear. Scheduling regular check-ups with your eye doctor is essential for catching and managing glaucoma early, helping to avoid serious damage to your vision. 

Protect Your Sight and Manage Glaucoma with Grene Vision Group

Although it can be tough to prevent glaucoma from developing, catching it early is crucial for saving your sight. Starting treatment early, with options like eye drops or laser therapy, can greatly reduce the risk of vision loss and optic nerve damage. Often, early glaucoma doesn't have any symptoms, but our skilled vision care team can spot it during a routine eye exam.

Regular appointments with an eye care specialist are essential for the early spotting and handling of eye conditions like glaucoma, making sure you get the right treatment for any type of this disease.

With frequent eye exams, the experts at Grene Vision Group are equipped to detect and manage eye diseases before they affect your vision. Our practice provides the highest quality of glaucoma care to help maintain your best possible vision. To take a step forward in caring for your eye health, schedule an eye examination with us today. 

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