What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a medical disease of the eye that, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss. It is one of the most serious eye disorders, and approximately 2.25 million Americans 45 years or older have glaucoma. It is estimated that between 84,000 and 116,000 of them have become blind from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is usually caused by increased pressure in the eye, which causes mechanical damage to the optic nerve, and also affects the blood flow to the optic nerve. This damage to the optic nerve is what causes vision loss.

There are two main types of glaucoma: open angle glaucoma, which is the most common form, and acute angle closure glaucoma, which makes up approximately 5% of all glaucoma cases.

An annual comprehensive eye examination with your Houston ophthalmologist is the best way to screen for glaucoma. Our highly experienced Houston ophthalmologists will perform a comprehensive eye health check up, including checking your ocular pressure. If they find any abnormalities, they can perform additional diagnostic testing to diagnose possible glaucoma.

Glaucoma often develops over many years without causing pain or symptoms, which is why it is so important to have an annual eye exam. Glaucoma symptoms differ depending on the type of glaucoma you have, and can include the following:

Open-angle glaucoma



    • Blind spots in the peripheral or central vision, most commonly in both eyes


    • Tunnel vision (in advanced stages of glaucoma)



Acute angle-closure glaucoma



    • Severe headache


    • Eye pain


    • Nausea and vomiting


    • Blurred vision


    • Halos around lights


    • Eye redness


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is very important to see an eye doctor right away.

People at the greatest risk include those who:

  • Are over the age of 40
  • Have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
  • Are extremely near-sighted or far-sighted
  • Are black, Asian, or Hispanic
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have a history of high intraocular pressure
  • Have a history of prolonged corticosteroid use

If you have any of these risk factors, or other concerns with your own personal medical history, please discuss them with your eye doctor during your comprehensive eye exam.

Once diagnosed, glaucoma can be controlled. Treatments to lower pressure in the eye include non-surgical methods such as prescription eye drops and medications, laser therapy, and surgery.

Early detection and treatment are essential to preventing vision loss due to glaucoma, so having your annual comprehensive eye exam with a Houston ophthalmologist is crucial for all patients.

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, make sure to take your eye drops as prescribed by your physician, go to all scheduled eye exams as recommended by your physician, and exercise proper eye safety precautions to help prevent eye injuries.