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Types of Glaucoma and Their Treatment Options

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness globally, with over four million people estimated to be blind due to glaucoma. In the United States alone, over three million Americans are living with glaucoma. Yet, most people are not aware that they have glaucoma until it’s too late. This is due to a number of factors, including a lack of symptoms in the early stages, lack of testing for detection of glaucoma, and lack of education surrounding the progressive vision condition.  In this brief article, an ophthalmologist in Tampa with Florida Eye Center will review the differences between the four main types of glaucoma and the treatment options available to you. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, consult one of our board-certified ophthalmologists today. 

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

Primary open-angle glaucoma is by far the most common type of glaucoma in the United States, where nine out of ten individuals affected by glaucoma will have primary open-angle glaucoma. The condition is virtually painless and develops without any symptoms apart from very gradual vision loss as a result of irreversible damage to the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma is referred to as “open-angle” due to the open angle where the iris meets the cornea. Because this condition is caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals resulting in increased eye pressure, the available treatment options consist of medications such as eye drops, and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT is a procedure that involves lowering intraocular pressure and improving the drainage of eye fluid.  Related: Treating Glaucoma With Laser Eye Surgery 

Normal-Tension Glaucoma (NTG)

Normal-tension glaucoma is a variation of open-angle glaucoma that occurs in individuals with normal eye pressure. Although very little is known about why normal eye pressure damages some eyes, you may be at a higher risk for normal-tension glaucoma if you have low blood pressure, a history of systemic heart disease, a family history of normal-tension glaucoma, or are of Japanese ancestry. Treatment for normal-tension glaucoma is the same as that for primary open-angle glaucoma, with a variety of treatments that can help to slow the disease and stop vision loss, such as surgery or medication. 

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma, also known as pediatric or infantile glaucoma, is a rare condition that occurs in babies and young children. Approximately one out of 10,000 children in the United States are born with congenital glaucoma. In most circumstances, congenital glaucoma is diagnosed within the first year of life due to visible symptoms of cloudy eyes, light sensitivity, and increased tear production.  In uncomplicated cases, microsurgery can correct the structural defects of the eye’s drainage canals. In some circumstances, a combination of medication and surgery may be required. There are two main types of surgical procedures to correct the defects: filtering and laser surgery. Filtering or microsurgery involves creating a drainage canal in the eye through the use of small surgical tools. Laser surgery, on the other hand, makes a small opening in the tissue of the eye via a laser.  Related: Why It’s Important to Get Your Child’s Vision Checked

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as acute glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, is a less common type of glaucoma caused by blocked drainage canals as a result of a narrow angle between the iris and the cornea. It is accompanied by a sudden rise in intraocular pressure with noticeable symptoms, such as intense pain in the eyes, red eyes, nausea, and blurred vision. Angle-closure glaucoma requires immediate medical attention because it can lead to blindness within only a couple of days if left untreated. At the emergency room, a doctor will administer medication and perform laser treatment in order to lower the pressure in your eye, help fluid drain, and protect your vision.  To schedule a consultation with an eye doctor in Tampa at the Florida Eye Center, please request an appointment today. Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Florida Eye Center website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by the medical professionals at Florida Eye Center or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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