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Are There Different Types of Glaucoma?

Not all glaucoma cases are the same. There are actually several types of glaucoma, and your treatment will depend on what type of glaucoma you have.

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Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

A small percentage of people with glaucoma have a condition known as narrow-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur slowly and progressively or very quickly and can only be detected through an eye exam. Narrow-angle glaucoma usually occurs in far-sighted people because they tend to have anterior chambers that are smaller than normal.

In cases of narrow-angle glaucoma, the iris can bow forward, thinning the angle that normally drains the eye. As the angle becomes smaller, fluid backs up and pressure in the eye, or intraocular pressure, begins to rise. If narrow-angle glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause loss of vision. In some cases, narrow-angle glaucoma can lead to an emergency condition known as angle-closure glaucoma. For more information, ask your doctor about narrow angle glaucoma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of adult glaucoma and can lead to loss of vision or blindness. This type of glaucoma can only be detected by your eye care practitioner through a routine eye examination.


Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged over time. A part of this system, called the trabecular meshwork, is a tiny, spongy tissue that allows fluid to leave the eye. This structure is situated in the eye’s angle where the iris and cornea meet. When this drain becomes clogged, aqueous fluid cannot leave the eye as fast as it is produced, causing the fluid to back up. This backed-up fluid increases pressure in the eye and can cause damage to eyesight.

If open-angle glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause a gradual loss of vision. This type of glaucoma develops slowly and usually without symptoms.

Other Types of Glaucoma

Low-Tension or Normal-Tension Glaucoma

While normal intraocular pressure ranges between 12 to 21 mm Hg, an individual may have glaucoma even if the pressure is within this range. This type of glaucoma has symptoms of optic nerve damage and narrowed side vision.

Childhood Glaucoma

Childhood glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma that often develops in infancy, early childhood, or adolescence. Prompt medical treatment is important in preventing blindness.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma, a type of childhood glaucoma, occurs in children born with defects in the angle of the eye that slow the normal drainage of fluid. Prompt medical treatment is important in preventing blindness.

Primary Glaucoma

Both open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary glaucoma cannot be contributed to any other known cause.

Secondary Glaucoma

Both open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma can be classified as primary or secondary. Secondary glaucoma develops as a complication of another medical condition or injury. In rare cases, secondary glaucoma is a complication following another type of eye surgery.

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