Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma types diagram

Glaucoma is not just one disease, but a group of diseases that all involve optic nerve damage. Most of these types of glaucoma involve high eye pressure and are classified by the underlying problem that blocks the drainage channels.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

In the US, Europe, and Africa, open-angle glaucoma is most common. The aqueous channels appear normal but fail to allow the aqueous fluid to pass through (similar to a clogged filter) so that the eye pressure builds up. Research suggests that a genetic defect is responsible for this malfunction of the aqueous channels in most patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.

Up to one-third of patients with open-angle glaucoma have eye pressures that are in the “normal” range (10-21) but they still get glaucoma damage. This condition is called Low Tension Glaucoma or Normal Pressure Glaucoma.

Some of these patients have a very thin cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) that makes their eye pressure measure lower than it actually is. Others may have a weak optic nerve that can be damaged even at normal eye pressures. Still, others may have episodes of very low blood pressure that cause damage to the optic nerve indistinguishable from glaucoma.

Angle Closure Glaucoma

In contrast, angle-closure glaucoma is more common in Asia than in the U.S.A. Here the front part of the eye is small and the iris (the brown or blue part of the eye) covers the channels of drainage (like a sheet of paper covering the bathtub drain). This can happen suddenly with pain and immediate loss of vision, or more commonly develop slowly without pain or noticeable changes insight.

The tendency to develop both kinds of blocked channels is often inherited and may affect several members in one family. In most patients, this blockage and high pressure are not caused by the blood pressure or anything one eats or drinks, although physical inactivity, obesity, and smoking can make established glaucoma worse, as can poorly control high blood pressure and diabetes.

Infants and children may also develop glaucoma. Any infant or child with unusually large eyes, cloudy eyes or who cannot open his eyes (light sensitivity with excessive tearing) needs to have an immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist.

Medications affecting your eye pressure

Some medications can cause or worsen glaucoma. The use of steroids (like prednisone, cortisone, or dexamethasone) for more than a few weeks can cause high eye pressures in 30-40% of normal people. This occurs more frequently if you have family members with glaucoma (a “family history” of glaucoma) and even more frequently if you have glaucoma. While this is most common with topical eye drops and ointments, it can occur with steroids taken by any method (by mouth, skin cream, nasal spray, inhalers, and joint injections).

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9555 SW Barnes Rd.
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Portland, OR 97225
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Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
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Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Milwaukie
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Milwaukie, OR 97222
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3246 N. Lombard
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northeast Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., #245
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Westside Surgery Center
13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more
EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center
12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more

Our Locations

Barnes Road
9555 SW Barnes Rd.
#201 (2nd floor)
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 227-2020 see more
Gresham
24601 SE Stark St.
Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
Hillsboro
6111 NE Cornell Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Milwaukie
11086 SE Oak St
Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 656-4221 see more
North Portland
3246 N. Lombard
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northeast Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., #245
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Surgery Centers

Westside Surgery Center

13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more

EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center

12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more