Skip to content

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Signs of Damage Caused by Glaucoma - Topic Overview

All forms of glaucoma cause the same characteristic changes in the optic nerve, at the back of the eye, and the nerve fibers. Glaucoma causes changes in the appearance of the optic disc (notching or thinning of the edge) and changes in the nerve fiber layer (fiber defects). Tiny amounts of bleeding (hemorrhages) near the optic disc may represent ongoing damage from the disease.

Other findings are used to determine how bad the disease is. Doctors classify the severity of glaucoma in the following way:

Recommended Related to Eye Health

An Overview of Refractive and Laser Eye Surgery

Vision correction surgery, also called refractive and laser eye surgery, is any surgical procedure used to correct vision problems. In recent years, tremendous advancements have been made in this field. After refractive and laser eye surgery, many patients report seeing better than they had at any other time in their lives. Most types of vision correction surgery work by reshaping the cornea, or clear front part of the eye, so that light traveling through it is properly focused onto the retina...

Read the An Overview of Refractive and Laser Eye Surgery article > >

  • Ocular hypertension is consistently elevated pressure inside the eye (greater than 21 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg) but without any evidence of damage to the optic nerve or loss of visual field. Some people who have ocular hypertension may still need treatment if the pressure in the eye is high enough to pose a risk of damaging the optic nerve over the long term.
  • Corneal thickness refers to the thickness of the clear front surface of the eye (cornea). Cornea thickness, along with pressure inside the eye, helps determine your risk for glaucoma.
  • Mild glaucoma refers to optic nerve damage with a normal visual field or minimal loss of side, or peripheral, vision. If signs of optic nerve damage are present without visual field loss, the person may be considered as possibly having glaucoma (a glaucoma suspect).
  • Moderate glaucoma refers to optic nerve damage with moderate loss of vision in at least one eye. But sight in the center of the eye (central vision) is not affected.
  • Severe glaucoma refers to optic nerve damage with loss of vision in both eyes or loss of sight in one eye that includes central vision loss.

The two basic types of glaucoma differ in relation to the cause of the optic nerve damage. A simple test (gonioscopy) can help your doctor know what type of glaucoma may be present. Treatment is based on the type of glaucoma.

  • In closed-angle glaucoma, the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the lens block the movement of fluid between the chambers of the eye. The blockage causes pressure to build up and makes the iris press on the drainage system (trabecular meshwork) of the eye. The increased pressure damages the optic nerve.
  • In open-angle glaucoma, the iris and lens do not block the movement of fluid between the chambers of the eye. The cause of the optic nerve damage in open-angle glaucoma is not well understood. It may be that the fluid does not drain out of the eye normally. It may be that as a person ages, his or her eyes have more exposure to risk factors or are more likely to be injured. People may also inherit the tendency to develop glaucoma.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 28, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Signs of Damage Caused by Glaucoma Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Woman holding tissue to reddened eye
    Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    eye
    Simple annoyance or the sign of a problem?
     
    red eyes
    Symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
    blue eye with contact lens
    Tips for wearing and caring.
     
    Understanding Stye
    Article
    human eye
    Article
     
    eye
    Video
    eye exam timing
    Video
     
    vision test
    Tool
    is vision correction surgery for you
    Article
     
    high tech contacts
    Article
    eye drop
    Article
     

    Special Sections