Types of Glaucoma

Open, closed, secondary, congenital, pigmentary & normal pressure glaucoma

By Brandie Umar, Executive Director of ContentLast modified: October 04, 2011

Types Of Glaucoma

There are many different types of glaucoma. The most commonly diagnosed is open angle glaucoma and affects over 3 million Americans alone. 

Open angle glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma is caused by fluid being unable to pass the filtration system ( trabecular meshwork ) to reach the drainage channels. Fluid builds up inside the eye causing the intraocular pressure to increase. Increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve that is responsible for sending images to the brain.

Closed angle glaucoma

The cause of optic nerve damage with closed angle glaucoma is the same as for open angle glaucoma - fluid is unable to leave the eye causng the intraocular pressure to increase and the optic nerve is damaged. The difference between open and closed glaucoma is the reason for the fluid build up: patients with closed glaucoma have blockages in the drainage channels of the eye. Because the aqueous fluid is unable to drain from the eye, pressure builds.

Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is a form of open angle glaucoma but is commonly caused by injury to the eye or as a side effect of another eye condition such as retinal detachment.

Congenital glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is caused by the drainage channels in the eye not developing correctly. Congenital or infantile glaucoma is a rare yet serious form of eye condition that can cause an enlargement of the eye as well as vision impairment. 

Pigmentary glaucoma

Pigmentary glaucoma is a blockage of the trabecular meshwork, as with open angle glaucoma. However, pigmentary glaucoma is caused by the iris (coloured part of the eye)breaking down and the small pieces blocking the filtration system preventing fluid leaving the eye.

Normal pressure glaucoma

With this form of glaucoma, intraocular pressure in the eye is normal however the optic nerve itself becomes damaged. The exact cause of normal pressure glaucoma is unknown but it is believed the blood flow to the optic nerve itself becomes interrupted resulting in the same symptoms as other types of glaucoma. 


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