What Happens When a Person Gets Glaucoma?

digital composition of an eye
digital composition of an eye

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the eye’s optic nerve and can ultimately result in loss of vision and blindness. Extensive research has indicated that eye pressure is an important element when it comes to glaucoma. It is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage. Glaucoma has been dubbed the silent thief of sight.


Schematic diagram of the human eye
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The front of the eye has a space which is called the anterior chamber. A transparent fluid travels constantly in and out of the chamber and serves as nourishment for tissues that are in close proximity.

The fluid departs the chamber at an open angle where the cornea and iris meet. Once the fluid reaches this angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork and leaves the eye.

Glaucoma occurs when this fluid passes lethargically via the drain. Eventually, there is an assembly of fluid in the passage, which means it exerts pressure inside the eye up to a point where it can impair the optic nerve. When damage is inflicted on the nerve, glaucoma, and loss of vision abound. This is precisely why governing the pressure inside the eye is so critical.


The broad categories of glaucoma are open-angle and narrow-angle glaucoma. The ‘angle’ is a reference to the drainage angle inside the eye which controls the discharge of fluids (aqueous), which are continually produced in the eye.

If the aqueous reaches the drainage angle, the glaucoma is known as open-angle. If for some reason the angle is not accessible, then that is classified as narrow-angle glaucoma. Now let’s discuss the various subtypes.

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

This is a common occurrence that steadily lowers the person’s capability of peripheral vision without the exhibition of other symptoms. A concern for those affected is that by the time they observe it or their doctor is able to detect it, significant and irreparable damage may already be caused.

If the patient’s intraocular pressure remains high, the havoc wreaked by primary open-angle glaucoma may carry on until tunnel vision is developed. This means there may be a point where the patient is only able to see people or objects that lie straight ahead and not sideways. The concern of eventuality is that blindness may transpire as well.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

Also called normal pressure or low tension glaucoma, it is an open-angle affliction. It instigates visual field loss since the optic nerve is at a detriment. However, patients who have normal-tension glaucoma do not experience a decline in their intraocular pressure levels.

Furthermore, this form of glaucoma is innocuous, and permanent harm may not be noticed until symptoms like tunnel vision occur. Although many doctors believe it is linked to inefficient blood flow to the optic nerve, the exact cause of normal-tension glaucoma has not been determined yet.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

This is a rare form of glaucoma that is the outcome of congestion of the drainage angle of the eye courtesy of pigments that have severed from the iris. This reduces the aqueous outflow from the eye over a period of time. Naturally, an inflammatory response to the blockage causes disturbance to the drainage mechanism.

Secondary Glaucoma

If the patient shows symptoms of chronic glaucoma in the aftermath of an eye injury, then that could be a sign that they are suffering from secondary glaucoma. This may also develop if an eye infection is active or if there is discernible inflammation. A cataract may result in an enlargement of the lens, which could end up causing secondary glaucoma as well.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is an inherited form which means it may make its presence felt at birth. There is empirical evidence to suggest so since 80% of cases are diagnosed by the time a child is one year old. These children have a malfunctioning drainage system in their eyes.

Moreover, it can be hard to observe signals of congenital glaucoma, since children are too young to comprehend the illness and voice their own opinion regarding the matter. This is where the parents play a decisive role. If they notice that their child’s eye appears hazy or enlarged, they should consult a doctor at the first instance.

Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma

Finally, this is a form of narrow-angle glaucoma. This ailment produces symptoms abruptly which include pain in the eye, headaches, halos around lighting, dilated pupils, and nausea. All of the above constitute a medical emergency. Acute angle glaucoma may last for a few hours at a stretch and then subside. It may reappear for another bout. In extreme cases, it may last long without even momentary relief.


Close up photo of a hazel eye
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If treatment is availed promptly, at the very least it can stem the progression of the disease. This is one of the reasons patients should see a doctor as soon as possible. Of course, medication is a viable solution for rectifying glaucoma. These usually come in eye drops or pills. Also, they are generally administered early on before other avenues are explored. They can lower eye pressure and hinder the production of excess fluids.

Most medicines taken to cure glaucoma must be taken consistently as directed by the professional. There are some that introduce side effects, such as a stinging sensation or recognizable redness in the eyes.

Laser trabeculoplasty is a procedure that aids the eyes in draining out abundant fluids. The operation is performed at the doctor’s clinic. It begins with the application of numbing drops to the affected eye or eyes. Once the patient is seated and facing the laser machine, the doctor exposes them to a special lens. A high-density beam is aimed through the lens and deflects onto the meshwork inside the eyes. The laser creates space for the fluids to drain more efficiently. There are potential side effects of laser trabeculoplasty, one of which is inflammation. Medication may still be required post-surgery.

Another feasible resort is conventional surgery. This procedure creates a new passage for the fluids to be discharged. Doctors may suggest this treatment if laser surgery is not considered effective, depending on the case at hand.

Also called trabeculectomy, it is performed in an operating room. Medication is administered pre-surgery to assuage the patient. Small injections are made around the affected eye to numb it. A small tissue is removed to make a new avenue for the fluid to flow.

Once the surgery is complete, eye drops must be taken for weeks. In most cases, the operation is only carried out on one eye. If the other eye is affected, then another surgery will be scheduled a few weeks later. Conventional surgery is effective in roughly 70% of all cases.

Make sure you make responsible visits to your optometrist. Like all other types of routine doctor visits, don’t lose sight of your eye’s health (pun intended!). 

Eye Conditions that Should Not be Overlooked

”Close up image of the eye"Photo by Yellowjyayimages.com

The eye is one of the most sensitive organs of the body and is constantly exposed to the external environment, making it vulnerable to injuries and infections. According to a report from the World Health Organization, there are roughly 250 million people all over the world with visual impairment. More unfortunate, almost 80 percent of these cases could have been prevented if they were timely diagnosed and treated.

For that matter, it is always advised to have regular eye checkups because even a small eye condition, if not addressed, could lead to the loss of vision. In this article, we will share some eye issues which should not be taken lightly and require immediate consultation of an eye doctor.

Flashes, Floaters, and Shadows

Did you ever get a light or photo flash catch you (and your eyes) by surprise and then you see those little ‘stars’ floating around? Well, you have experienced floaters. Usually harmless when this happens. Flashers are similar and also usually harmless. As we get older though, we may experience them more often.

If you are experiencing frequent occurrences of these visual phenomena, then you might be suffering from a detachment of your retina. When the retina is moved from its natural position, an unexpected onset of flashes, shadows, and floaters can become common.

The retina sends nerve signals to the brain for image formation and its detachment can be caused by glaucoma, nearsightedness and/or due to a physical injury. If the detached retina is not addressed in time, then the affected person could lose complete vision of the infected eye.

Sudden Loss of Vision

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of loss of vision in the senior population. In most of the cases, vision loss due to macular degeneration is gradual. However, in two cases, macular degeneration can be sudden.

  • When capillaries in the eye become porous and blood gets accumulated under the retina
  • Glaucoma can also lead to the sudden loss of vision where optic nerve gets ruptured with the buildup of aqueous humor in the optical chamber

Therefore, people suffering from glaucoma and seniors suffering from gradual loss of vision should not show negligence in their eye treatments.

Eye Injuries

Any eye cut or puncture wound should not be treated frivolously, particularly if the pain or swelling is persisting for a long time. Instead of treating it on your own, it is best to go to your physician for a better care. A serious eye injury, if not taken care of, can culminate into permanent optical damage.

Constant Discomfort

If you are feeling continuous discomfort in the eyes after doing any activity where there are chances that a tiny particle could have entered your eye, then don’t put up with this distressing situation. Constant uneasiness and distress might be an indication that the particle is still there. A physician checkup is necessary for this situation because a foreign particle in the eye can cause a serious eye infection.

Causes of Red Eyes

Eyes can turn red due to various reasons. When we get both of our eyes red in the conditions mentioned below, it is considered quite normal:

  • Allergic reaction to dust and other environmental pollutants
  • The onset of viral fevers and colds

In these situations, your eyes get back to their normal appearance once the pertaining health issue goes away. However, there are few instances where one of the eyes gets red. These cases demand an immediate consultation with a specialist because it either indicates two of these eye conditions:

Scleritis: This is an extreme case of inflammation of sclera (the white external coating of the eye). Chemical exposure, post-surgical inflammation, and other diseases are often the reason behind this condition of a single reddened eye.

Uveitis: This is another severe case of inflammation where the iris, choroid and ciliary body present in the middle layer of the eye get affected. Inflammatory diseases and eye injuries can be the causes of this rare case of ‘red eye’.

Discomfort in Wearing Contact Lens

There are many people who can wear a contact lens without any problem. However, there are others who feel the constant feeling of distress while wearing them. Don’t persist with this discomfort, pain or redness because it can lead to the development of an infection. Malfunction of the contact lens can also inflict a severe physical injury to the eyes.

So, whenever you are not feeling comfortable with your contacts, remove them and immediately consult an eye specialist.

Blurred Vision

Even if it is temporary or episodic, blurred vision indicates several eye problems. From glaucoma, AMD to uveitis or a ruptured retina, instances of blurred vision can be an early sign of any of these serious eye diseases.

Moreover, blurred vision in one eye can also be a sign of stroke. Stroke is a fatal medical condition where the supply of oxygenated blood to the eye is blocked. Blurred vision in a single eye might indicate that the carotid artery is blocked. This artery is the primary blood supplier of the eyes.

Postsurgical Complications

Don’t fall victim to the misconception that postsurgical complications are a part of the process. Patients who have had eye surgery in the recent past and experience pain, redness or loss and blurring of the vision, they must consult their physician or surgeon immediately instead of considering it a part of healing process.

Aside from keeping tabs on the above-discussed eye issues, it is imperative to maintain a good routine to ensure the health of your eyes.

  • Get an annual eye exam from a certified eye doctor or more often if prescribed
  • If you wear contact lenses, make sure you follow all instructions on how to keep them clean.
  • You must be aware of your family history regarding eye diseases. It will help in obtaining the appropriate precautionary measures to protect yourself from the same optical issues.

Make sure that you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens because they are rich in vitamins which improve eye vision. Furthermore, an addition of seafood in the form of salmon and tuna to your daily diet can also act as a vision improving supplement. These fish meats are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and these good fats are very beneficial for your eyesight. Your eyes are the optics of your brain and you only have two of them. Make sure you take all the precautions to keep them healthy.

Note: The advice contained within this article is suggestive and is for informational purposes only. The information contained in this article should not be followed without the prior consultation of a medical professional!