What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by the optic nerve progressively becoming damaged. As the damage progresses, blind spots develop in one’s peripheral and/or central vision. Glaucoma often runs in families. It is possible that genetics play a role in the development of glaucoma. Genes related to increased intraocular pressure and optic nerve damage have been discovered in some people with the condition. 
Increased intraocular pressure (eye pressure) is typically the cause of optic nerve damage in people with glaucoma. Fluid called aqueous humor, builds up in the eye causing this increased pressure. In people without glaucoma, this fluid is drained into the front of the eye, at the angle where the iris and cornea meet (drainage angle). An overproduction of aqueous humor, or an alteration in the drainage system, can cause increased intraocular pressure. 
Causes of glaucoma also depend on the type of glaucoma one has. In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage angle is open, but the tissue where the fluid is drained out (trabecular meshwork) is partially blocked. This results in a slow, progressive increase in intraocular pressure. 
In angle-closure glaucoma, the iris bulges forward and narrows/blocks the drainage angle. This causes an increase in intraocular pressure. When it occurs suddenly it is called acute angle-closure glaucoma, while when it occurs gradually it is called chronic angle-closure glaucoma. When the condition is acute, it is a medical emergency that can result in complete blindness. 
In people with normal-tension glaucoma there is damage to the optic nerve without any increase in intraocular pressure. The pressure is within normal limits, and yet the damage still occurs. The cause of this type of glaucoma is not well known. It is thought that it may be caused by conditions that alter circulation, such as atherosclerosis, or that it may occur in people with sensitive optic nerves.  
glaucoma causes

  • "Glaucoma." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Sep. 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2017.
  • “What Is Glaucoma?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 01 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Facts About Glaucoma.” The National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute (NEI), n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2017.


From Our Blog: Consequences of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can silently damage the body and cause complications. Blood is supplied to the eyes by tiny vessels that can be damaged due to high blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Fortunately, you can control your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems.

consequences of high blood pressure infographic


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