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Types of Glaucoma

written by: Pepperminty • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/30/2011

Learn about the "silent thief of sight" known as glaucoma. While glaucoma is often referred to as a single medical condition, it is actually an umbrella term for several different types of glaucoma.

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    Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that can eventually lead to blindness if let untreated. It is often associated with increased eye pressure that damages the optic nerve. However, this is only one of the many types of glaucoma. Other types of glaucoma do not cause physical pressure on the eye, but disrupt how the eye discards fluid. Other types can cause intense pain, difficulty seeing or nausea.

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    Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

    Primary open-angle glaucoma, also called chronic glaucoma, is one of the most common types of glaucoma. This condition causes the eyes to not properly drain fluid, which leads to a buildup of pressure on the eye. Chronic glaucoma is often not diagnosed and treated promptly because there are very few symptoms associated with it. Delayed treatment increases the risk for permanent vision loss.

    Unlike other types of glaucoma, open-angle does not cause pain or vision issues. Usually, open-angle glaucoma is the result of an aging drainage channel within the eye sockets. Although chronic glaucoma mostly affects people 35 and older, some younger people are also experience this problem. Roughly one percent of the United States population suffers from open-angle glaucoma.

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    Angle-Closure Glaucoma

    Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as narrow-angle glaucoma and acute glaucoma, is the second most common type of glaucoma. Unlike primary open-angle glaucoma, this form is usually accompanied by numerous symptoms. A severe unset of eye pain, blurred vision, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diluted pupils usually occurs. In some rare cases, however, no symptoms arise.

    People of Asian and Native American descent are at an increased risk for acute glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, fluid is trapped in the front of the eye. Immediate medical attention is needed because blindness can happen within one to two days. Laser surgery or medications are used to treat angle-closure glaucoma.

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    Normal-Tension Glaucoma

    Normal-tension glaucoma, also called low-pressure or low-tension glaucoma, can result in tunnel vision. The optic nerve is usually damaged because of poor blood flow. This is another of the types of glaucoma that does not cause pain. As a result, normal-tension glaucoma is often not treated until permanent damage has occurred. Optometrists usually treat this disorder by using medications to lower eye pressure to 30 percent. Unfortunately, normal-tension glaucoma can continue worsening even after eye pressure has decreased.

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    Pigmentary Glaucoma

    Pigmentary glaucoma is very similar to primary open-angle glaucoma. This form happens when the drainage angle is clogged by pigments from the iris. As with open-angle glaucoma, the pigementary type usually does not exhibit any symptoms. Occasionally, a person may experience pain or blurry vision during moderate exercise. Pigmentary glaucoma is one of the rarest types of glaucoma targeting white men in their mid-30s.

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    Secondary Glaucoma

    Secondary glaucoma is the result of an eye injury or medical condition. Diabetes, cataracts, tumors or surgery can trigger glaucoma. Some mediations, such as steroids, can also be causes. An optometrist will prescribe a treatment based on whether the glaucoma is open-angle or angle-closure.

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    Congenital Glaucoma

    Congenital glaucoma is present at birth. It is diagnosed within the first year of life in 80 percent of cases. As with adults, this type of glaucoma disrupts the eye's ability to properly drain fluid. Congenital glaucoma can cause a child's eye to appear cloudy or enlarged. The child may also produce excess tears. Boys are more likely to inherit this condition. Congenital glaucoma is treated much different form adult forms. The medications used to treat adult types of glaucoma can harm infants and children. Surgery is generally viewed as the safest treatment option.

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    References

    http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/glaucoma/GLC_children.html

    http://www.preventblindness.org/glaucoma/glaucoma_types.htm

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/glaucoma/DS00283

    http://www.glaucoma.org/learn/types.phphttp://glaucoma.emedtv.com/glaucoma/types-of-glaucoma.html

    http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm