What Causes Glaucoma?

With no early symptoms or pain, glaucoma seems to come out of nowhere for most. Although there are inherent risk factors for this degenerative eye disease, the initial cause remains unknown.

However, we do know how this disease happens. There are several types of glaucoma with the first one being the most common—open-angle glaucoma. This happens when an abnormal fluid circulates incorrectly, increased pressure forms within the eye. Due to this pressure, the optic nerve becomes damaged. The optic nerve is vital for your vision, for it transmits images to the brain. If this nerve becomes damaged, severe vision loss or even blindness will occur. This specific form of glaucoma happens quite slowly, and often times, when the individual notices such changes or symptoms, doctors claim that it may be too late to call for help.

Another form of this disease is called angle-closure, or closed-angle glaucoma. The same process occurs within the open-angle glaucoma, except the iris moves forward in attempt to block the fluid drainage that’s occurring. From here, pressure increases and angle-closure glaucoma is formed. This form of glaucoma may happen quite suddenly, leaving the individual in pain and discomfort.

In normal-tension or low-tension glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged even when pressure is in the normal range, or below 21mmHG. This may happen from a sensitive optic nerve or a shortage of blood flow, which may happen from atherosclerosis.

Pigmentary glaucoma typically affects to middle-aged males with nearsighted vision. During this process, pigment particles disperse throughout the eye, which may ultimately result in a disruption of fluids and then formulation of glaucoma. It’s said that some sports may disrupt these pigment particles.

Congenital glaucoma affects infants and children. Reasoning for this may be due to an underlying medical condition. This form of glaucoma may already be present at birth or develop within the first few years of life.

Again, as the initial cause is unknown, there are several risk factors that should be taken into consideration. Risk factors include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Eye injury
  • 60+ years old
  • Black or Hispanic
  • Estrogen deficiency—specifically at an early age
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dilating eye drops
  • High blood pressure
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Eye inflammation
  • Retinal blood vessel blockage
  • Steroids
  • Pigment dispersion
  • Nearsightedness
  • Tumors
  • Other eye diseases
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Thin cornea

Be aware if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Trouble adjusting to dark rooms
  • Eye discomfort or pain
  • Iris color change
  • Swollen eyes
  • Distortion in vision
  • Nausea or vomiting from eye pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Unusual light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Sudden blurred vision
  • Rainbows or halos around light
  • Unusually dry eyes
  • Excessive watery eyes




Boyd, K. (2015, December 29). Causes of Glaucoma. Retrieved from http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/glaucoma-causes

Glaucoma and Your Eyes. (2015, February 4). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/glaucoma-eyes

Nordqvist, C. (2016, March 24). Glaucoma: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9710.php

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