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Frequently Asked Questions About Eye Conditions

  • What is a cataract?
  • Answer:

    A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

    A cataract can occur in either or both eyes, though one eye may advance faster than the other. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.

  • How do cataracts develop?
  • Answer:

    Age-related cataracts develop when the lens, which consists mostly of water and protein, clumps together. This produces clouding of the lens and reduces the amount of light that reaches the retina and results in glare and seeing halos at night. The clouding may become severe enough to cause blurred vision.

    Cataracts can also develop from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, eye injuries, eye diseases, certain medications, or diabetes.

  • Who is at risk for cataracts?
  • Answer:

    The risk of cataracts increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataracts include:

    • Certain diseases (for example, diabetes)
    • Personal behavior (smoking, alcohol use)
    • The environment (prolonged exposure to ultraviolet sunlight)

  • What are the symptoms of a cataract?
  • Answer:

    The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

    • Cloudy or blurry vision.
    • Colors seem faded.
    • Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
    • Poor night vision.
    • Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
    • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

    These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.

  • How is a cataract detected?
  • Answer:

    A cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:

    • Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
    • Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine the retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems.

  • How is a cataract treated?
  • Answer:

    The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

    A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye care professional can make this decision together.

    Sometimes a cataract should be removed even if it does not cause problems with your vision. For example, a cataract should be removed if it prevents examination or treatment of another eye problem, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.

    If you have cataracts in both eyes that require surgery, the surgery will be performed on each eye at separate times, usually four to eight weeks apart.

  • When will my vision be normal again?
  • Answer:

    You can return quickly to many everyday activities, but your vision may be blurry. The healing eye needs time to adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye, especially if the other eye has a cataract. Ask your doctor when you can resume driving.

    If you received an intraocular lens (IOL), you may notice that colors are very bright. The IOL is clear, unlike your natural lens that may have had a yellowish/brownish tint. Within a few months after receiving an IOL, you will become used to improved color vision. Also, when your eye heals, you may need new glasses or contact lenses.

  • What is age-related macular degeneration?
  • Answer:

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD causes no pain.

    In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older

  • What is wet age-related macular degeneration?
  • Answer:

    Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs rapidly.

    With wet AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. Wet AMD is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry form.

    An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy. If you notice this condition or other changes to your vision, contact your eye care professional at once. You need a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

  • What is dry age-related macular degeneration?
  • Answer:

    Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision in the affected eye can be lost gradually.

    The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. You may have difficulty recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and other tasks. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected.

    If you have vision loss from dry AMD in one eye only, you may not notice any changes in your overall vision. With the other eye seeing clearly, you still can drive, read, and see fine details. You may notice changes in your vision only if AMD affects both eyes. If blurriness occurs in your vision, see an eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

  • Who is at risk for age-related macular degeneration?
  • Answer:

    AMD can occur during middle age. The risk increases with aging. Other risk factors include:

    • Smoking.
    • Obesity. Research studies suggest a link between obesity and the progression of early- and intermediate-stage AMD to advanced AMD.
    • Race. Whites and those with a light eye color are much more likely to lose vision from AMD than blacks.
    • Family history. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk of getting the disease.
    • Sex. Women appear to be at greater risk than men.

     

  • How is age-related macular degeneration detected?
  • Answer:

    AMD is detected during a comprehensive eye exam that includes:

    Visual acuity test . This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.

    Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of AMD and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.

    During an eye exam, you may be asked to look at an Amsler grid. The pattern of the grid resembles a checkerboard. You will cover one eye and stare at a black dot in the center of the grid. While staring at the dot, you may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy. You may notice that some of the lines are missing. These may be signs of AMD. You may also be given this test to perform at home to detect early changes in your vision.

    If your eye care professional believes you need treatment for wet AMD, he or she may suggest a fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a special dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your retina. The test allows your eye care professional to identify any leaking blood vessels and recommend treatment.

     

  • How is dry age-related macular degeneration treated?
  • Answer:

    Once dry AMD reaches the advanced stage, no form of treatment can prevent vision loss. However, treatment can delay and possibly prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage, in which vision loss occurs. The National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that taking a specific high-dose formulation of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduces the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. Slowing AMD's progression from the intermediate stage to the advanced stage will save the vision of some people.

  • What is the dosage of the AREDS formulation?
  • Answer:

    The specific daily amounts of antioxidants and zinc used by the study researchers were 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 International Units of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 International Units of vitamin A), 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide, and 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Copper was added to the AREDS formulation containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency anemia, a condition associated with high levels of zinc intake. Note: Smokers should not take beta-carotene.

  • Who should take the AREDS formulation?
  • Answer:

    People who are at high risk for developing advanced AMD should consider taking the AREDS formulation. You are at high risk for developing advanced AMD if you have either:

    1. Intermediate AMD in one or both eyes.

    OR

    2. Advanced AMD (dry or wet) in one eye but not the other eye.

    Your eye care professional can tell you if you have AMD, its stage, and your risk for developing the advanced form.

    The AREDS formulation is not a cure for AMD. It will not restore vision already lost from the disease. However, it may delay the onset of advanced AMD. That may help people who are at high risk for developing advanced AMD keep their vision.

  • Can diet alone provide the same high levels of antioxidants and zinc as the AREDS formulation?
  • Answer:

    No. The high levels of vitamins and minerals are difficult to achieve from diet alone. However, previous studies have suggested that people who have diets rich in green leafy vegetables have a lower risk of developing AMD.

  • How is wet age-related macular degeneration treated?
  • Answer:

    Wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and injections into the eye. None of these treatments is a cure for wet AMD. Each treatment may slow the rate of vision decline or stop further vision loss, but the disease and loss of vision may progress despite treatment.

           Laser surgery. This procedure uses a laser to destroy the fragile, leaky blood vessels. A high-energy beam of light is aimed directly onto the new blood vessels and destroys them, preventing further loss of vision. However, laser treatment also may destroy some surrounding healthy tissue and some vision. Only a small percentage of people with wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery. Laser surgery is more effective if the leaky blood vessels have developed away from the fovea, the central part of the macula. Laser surgery is performed in a doctor's office or eye clinic.

    The risk of new blood vessels developing after laser treatment is high. Repeated treatments may be necessary. In some cases, vision loss may progress despite repeated treatments.

           Photodynamic therapy. A drug called verteporfin is injected into your arm. It travels throughout the body, including the new blood vessels in your eye. The drug tends to "stick" to the surface of new blood vessels. Next, a light is shined into your eye for about 90 seconds. The light activates the drug. The activated drug destroys the new blood vessels and leads to a slower rate of vision decline. Unlike laser surgery, this drug does not destroy surrounding healthy tissue. Because the drug is activated by light, you must avoid exposing your skin or eyes to direct sunlight or bright indoor light for five days after treatment. Photodynamic therapy is relatively painless. It takes about 20 minutes and can be performed in a doctor's office.

    Photodynamic therapy slows the rate of vision loss. It does not stop vision loss or restore vision in eyes already damaged by advanced AMD. Treatment results often are temporary. You may need to be treated again.

           Injections. Wet AMD can now be treated with new drugs that are injected into the eye (anti-VEGF therapy). Abnormally high levels of a specific growth factor occur in eyes with wet AMD and promote the growth of abnormal new blood vessels. This drug treatment blocks the effects of the growth factor.

    You will need multiple injections, usually given about six weeks apart. The eye is numbed before each injection. After the injection, you will remain in the doctor's office for a while and your eye will be monitored. As with photodynamic therapy, the main benefit for patients treated with the drug is the slowing of vision loss from AMD.

  • What is diabetic retinopathy?
  • Answer:

    Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. It occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision.

    If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may notice no changes to your vision at first. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.

  • What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy?
  • Answer:

    Diabetic retinopathy has four stages:

    1. Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy. At this earliest stage, microaneurysms occur. These are small areas of balloon-like swelling in the retina's tiny blood vessels.
    2. Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy. As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked.
    3. Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy. Many more blood vessels are blocked, depriving several areas of the retina of their blood supply. These areas of the retina send signals to the body to grow new blood vessels for nourishment.
    4. Proliferative Retinopathy. At this advanced stage, the signals sent by the retina for nourishment trigger the growth of new blood vessels. This condition is called proliferative retinopathy. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They grow along the retina and along the surface of the clear, vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye. This can lead to retinal detachments and blindness.

    By themselves, these blood vessels do not cause symptoms or vision loss. However, they have thin, fragile walls. If they leak blood, severe vision loss and even blindness can result.

  • Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
  • Answer:

    All people with diabetes -- both type 1 and type 2 -- are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. That's why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Between 40% to 45% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes also have the condition. If you have diabetic retinopathy, your doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.

    During pregnancy, diabetic retinopathy may be a problem for women with diabetes since the retinopathy can worsen. To protect vision, every pregnant woman with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend additional exams during your pregnancy.

  • How does diabetic retinopathy cause vision loss?
  • Answer:

    Blood vessels damaged from diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in two ways:

    1. Fragile, abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. This is proliferative retinopathy and is the fourth and most advanced stage of the disease.
    2. Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision. This condition is called macular edema. It can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses. About half of the people with proliferative retinopathy also have macular edema.

  • Does diabetic retinopathy have any symptoms?
  • Answer:

    Diabetic retinopathy often has no early warning signs. Don't wait for symptoms. Be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

  • What are the symptoms of proliferative retinopathy if bleeding occurs?
  • Answer:

    At first, you will see a few specks of blood, or spots, "floating" in your vision. If spots occur, see your eye care professional as soon as possible. You may need treatment before more serious bleeding occurs. Hemorrhages tend to happen more than once, often during sleep.

    Sometimes, without treatment, the spots clear, and you will see better. However, bleeding can reoccur and cause severely blurred vision. You need to be examined by your eye care professional at the first sign of blurred vision, before more bleeding occurs.

    If left untreated, proliferative retinopathy can cause severe vision loss and even blindness from a retinal detachment. Also, the earlier you receive treatment, the more likely treatment will be effective.

  • How are macular edema and diabetic retinopathy detected?
  • Answer:

    Macular edema and diabetic retinopathy are detected during a comprehensive eye exam that includes:

            Visual acuity test . This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.

            Dilated eye exam . Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine the retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.        

    Your eye care professional checks your retina for early signs of the disease, including:

    • Leaking blood vessels
    • Retinal swelling (macular edema)
    • Pale, fatty deposits on the retina -- which is a sign of leaking blood vessels
    • Damaged nerve tissue
    • Any changes to the blood vessels

    If your eye care professional believes you need treatment for macular edema, he or she may suggest a fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a special dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your retina. The test allows your eye care professional to identify any leaking blood vessels and recommend treatment.

  • How is a macular edema treated?
  • Answer:

    Macular edema is treated with laser surgery. This procedure is called focal laser treatment. Your doctor places up to several hundred small laser burns in the areas of retinal leakage surrounding the macula. These burns slow the leakage of fluid and reduce the amount of fluid in the retina. The surgery is usually completed in one session. Further treatment may be needed.

    A person may need focal laser surgery more than once to control the leaking fluid. If you have macular edema in both eyes and require laser surgery, the doctor will generally only treat one eye at a time, usually allowing several weeks between treatment.

    Focal laser treatment helps stabilizes vision. In fact, focal laser treatment reduces the risk of vision loss by 50%. In a small number of cases, if vision is lost, it can be improved.

  • How is diabetic retinopathy treated?
  • Answer:

    During the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment may not be needed unless you have macular edema. To prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes should control their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

    Proliferative retinopathy is treated with laser surgery. This procedure is called scatter laser treatment. Scatter laser treatment helps to shrink the abnormal blood vessels. Your doctor places 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns in the areas of the retina away from the macula, causing the abnormal blood vessels to shrink. Because a high number of laser burns are necessary, two or more sessions usually are required to complete treatment. Although you may notice some loss of your side vision, scatter laser treatment can save the rest of your sight. Scatter laser treatment may slightly reduce your color vision and night vision.

    Scatter laser treatment works better before the fragile new blood vessels have started to bleed. That is why it is important to have regular, comprehensive dilated eye exams. Even if bleeding has started, scatter laser treatment may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding.

    If the bleeding is severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, blood is removed from the center of your eye.

  • What is a vitrectomy?
  • Answer:

    If you have a lot of blood in the center of the eye (vitreous gel), you may need a vitrectomy to restore your sight. If you need vitrectomies in both eyes, they are usually done several weeks apart.

    A vitrectomy is performed under either local or general anesthesia. Your doctor makes tiny incisions in your eye. Small instruments are used to remove the vitreous gel that is clouded with blood. The vitreous gel is replaced with a salt solution or sometimes an oily substance. Because the vitreous gel is mostly water, you will notice no change between the salt solution and the original vitreous gel.

    You will probably be able to return home after the vitrectomy. Some people stay in the hospital overnight. Your eye will be red and sensitive. You will need to wear an eye patch for a few days or weeks to protect your eye. You also will need to use medicated eye drops to protect against infection.

  • What can I do to protect my vision and eye health?
  • Answer:

    To protect vision, The National Eye Institute urges everyone with diabetes to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may need an eye exam more often. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95% with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.

    A major study has shown that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy. The people with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease. Better control also reduces the need for sight-saving laser surgery.

    Studies also show that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help your overall health as well as help protect your vision.

  • What is glaucoma?
  • Answer:

    Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. However, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

  • What is the optic nerve?
  • Answer:

    The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers. It connects the retina to the brain. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision.

  • How does open-angle glaucoma damage the optic nerve?
  • Answer:

    In the front of the eye is a space called the anterior chamber. A clear fluid flows continuously in and out of the chamber and nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber when the angle where the cornea and iris meet is open. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork, like a drain, and leaves the eye.

    In open-angle glaucoma, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork drain. As the fluid backs up, the pressure inside the eye rises, much like a over-inflated basketball, to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, vision loss results. That's why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.

  • Does increased eye pressure mean that I have glaucoma?
  • Answer:

    Not necessarily. Increased eye pressure means you are at risk for glaucoma, but does not mean you have the disease. A person has glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged. If you have increased eye pressure but no damage to the optic nerve has been found, you may not have glaucoma. However, you are at risk. Follow the advice of your eye care professional.

  • Can I develop glaucoma if I have increased eye pressure?
  • Answer:

    Not necessarily. Not every person with increased eye pressure will develop glaucoma. Some people can tolerate higher eye pressure better than others. Also, a certain level of eye pressure may be high for one person but normal for another.

    Whether you develop glaucoma depends on the level of pressure your optic nerve can tolerate without being damaged. This level is different for each person. That's why a comprehensive dilated eye exam is very important. It can help your eye care professional determine what level of eye pressure is normal for you. Be sure to ask your doctor what your eye pressure is and if it's normal.

  • Can I develop glaucoma without an increase in my eye pressure?
  • Answer:

    Yes. Glaucoma can develop without increased eye pressure. This form of glaucoma is called low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma. It is not as common as open-angle glaucoma.

  • Who is at risk for open-angle glaucoma?
  • Answer:

    Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people are at higher risk than others. They include:

    • Blacks over age 40
    • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
    • People with a family history of glaucoma
    • People with a history of direct trauma to the eye

    A comprehensive dilated eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, a thin cornea, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy.

  • What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
  • Answer:

    At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal.

    As glaucoma remains untreated, people miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.

  • Can glaucoma be treated?
  • Answer:

    Yes. Immediate treatment for early stage, open-angle glaucoma can delay progression of the disease. That's why early diagnosis is very important.

    Glaucoma treatments include medication, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.

    Medication. Drugs, in the form of eye drops or pills, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Some drugs cause the eye to make less fluid. Others lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye.

    Glaucoma drugs may be taken several times a day. Most people have no problems. However, some drugs can cause headaches or other side effects. For example, drops may cause stinging, burning, and redness in the eyes. Report these symptoms to your doctor so changes can be made in your treatment plan.

    Because glaucoma often has no symptoms, people may be tempted to stop taking, or may forget to take, their medicine. You need to use the drops or pills for as long as they help control eye pressure. Regular use is very important.

    Laser trabeculoplasty. Laser trabeculoplasty helps fluid drain out of the eye.

    It is performed in your doctor's office or eye clinic. A high-intensity beam of light is aimed into the angle and onto the meshwork inside your eye. The laser leaves tiny evenly spaced burns that stretch the drainage holes in the meshwork. This allows the fluid to drain better.

    Like any surgery, laser surgery can cause side effects, such as inflammation. Your doctor may give you some drops to take home for any soreness or inflammation inside the eye. Laser treatments -- if needed in both eyes -- may be scheduled several days to several weeks apart.

    Studies show that laser surgery is very good at reducing the pressure in some patients. However, its effects can wear off over time. Your doctor may suggest further treatment and you may still need glaucoma eye drops after laser treatment.

    Conventional surgery. Conventional surgery makes a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye. Your doctor may suggest this treatment at any time. Conventional surgery often is done after medication and laser surgery have failed to control pressure.

    Conventional surgery is performed in an eye clinic or hospital. A small piece of tissue is removed to create a new channel for the fluid to drain from the eye.

    For several weeks after the surgery, you must put drops in the eye to fight infection and inflammation. These drops will be different from those you may have been using before surgery.

    As with laser surgery, conventional surgery is performed on one eye at a time. Usually the operations are four to six weeks apart.

    Conventional surgery can have side effects, including cataracts, problems with the cornea, and inflammation or infection inside the eye. The buildup of fluid in the back of the eye may cause some patients to see shadows in their vision. If your vision changes or you have pain or discomfort, tell your doctor.  

  • What are some other forms of glaucoma?
  • Answer:

    Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. Some people have other types of the disease.

    In low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage and loss of vision may occur in people with normal eye pressure. Lowering eye pressure at least 30% through medication slows the disease in some people. Glaucoma may worsen in others despite low pressures.

    A comprehensive medical history is important in identifying other potential risk factors, such as low blood pressure, that contribute to low-tension glaucoma. If no risk factors are identified, the treatment options for low-tension glaucoma are the same as for open-angle glaucoma.

    In angle-closure glaucoma, the fluid at the front of the eye cannot reach the angle and leave the eye. People with this type of glaucoma have a sudden increase in eye pressure. Symptoms include severe eye pain, headache, and nausea, as well as redness of the eye and blurred vision. If you have these symptoms, you need to seek treatment immediately. This is a medical emergency. If your doctor is unavailable, go to the nearest hospital or clinic.

    In congenital glaucoma, children are born with a defect in the angle of the eye that slows the normal drainage of fluid. Surgery is the primary treatment because the structure of the drainage angle is so distorted. Also, glaucoma drugs may have unknown effects in infants and be difficult to give. If surgery is done promptly, these children usually have an excellent chance of having good vision.

    Secondary glaucomas develop as a complication of other medical conditions. These glaucomas are associated with eye surgery or advanced cataracts, eye injuries, certain eye tumors, or uveitis (eye inflammation). Corticosteroid drugs used to treat eye inflammations and other diseases can trigger glaucoma in some people. Treatment includes medication, laser surgery, or conventional surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on March 28, 2013

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