Understanding Glaucoma: A Guide to Its Two Main Types
I. The Two Main Types of Glaucoma
A. Open-Angle Glaucoma
Also known as wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common form of the disease. The ‘open’ drainage angle between the iris and cornea, as it should be, becomes blocked, increasing eye pressure progressively. This pressure damages the optic nerve over time, often without any warning or significant symptoms until the disease is well advanced.
Open-angle glaucoma rarely presents early symptoms. Later stages can reveal a loss of peripheral (side) vision, followed by a gradual decrease in central vision.
Factors such as age, family history, race (a higher prevalence among people of African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage), alongside medical conditions like diabetes, can heighten the risk of open-angle glaucoma.
Treatment options center around reducing intraocular pressure. Medications, laser therapy, and various surgical procedures can be used to either decrease eye fluid production or improve fluid drainage.
B. Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Contrary to its counterpart, angle-closure glaucoma involves a closed or narrow angle, obstructing fluid drainage and causing a rapid increase in eye pressure. Often associated with sudden symptoms and significant damage, this type could potentially lead to medical emergencies.
Quick onset eye pain, nausea, headaches, and blurred vision could suggest an initial attack of angle-closure glaucoma.
Those of Asian and Inuit backgrounds, as well as farsighted individuals, indicate a higher tendency to develop this type of Glaucoma.
While medication can provide temporary relief, laser treatment is conducted to create a tiny hole in the iris, aiding eye fluid drainage.
II. Understanding the Differences Between the Two Types
The critical difference lies in the pace and manifestation of these diseases: angle-closure is often acute, presenting sudden symptoms, while open-angle is a chronic condition that develops stealthily over time. Understanding the nature of these diseases emphasizes the importance of regular eye exams, given the silent progression and irreversible damage of glaucoma.
Both forms of glaucoma call for understanding and attention. Regular eye check-ups, appropriate treatment, and awareness can make a considerable difference in managing this ‘sneak thief of sight.’ Remember that awareness is light in the often dark path of diseases like glaucoma. So, help shed more light by sharing what you’ve learnt with those around you.