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Understanding the Two Types of Glaucoma and How They Differ

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As you grow older, your risk for glaucoma increases. Glaucoma is a serious eye disease and is the leading cause of blindness, so experienced optometrists Tanya Lau, OD and Keith Farson offer comprehensive, preventive care to prevent long-term complications, including the loss of your vision.

The best way to defend against glaucoma is to schedule regular checkups at Mission Viejo Optometric Center to ensure good eye health. You should also understand more about the different types of glaucoma and how they can affect your vision.

The basics of glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that result when fluid collects in the front of your eye. This fluid causes increased pressure on the optic nerve and can lead to the loss of vision and permanent blindness.

Eye exams involve glaucoma tests that painlessly test the pressure in your eyes. Although these tests are often routine, they are critical for those at higher risk for developing glaucoma, including:

  • People over 60
  • Those of African-American decent
  • Those with a family history of glaucoma

You may also be at increased risk for the disease if you’ve had previous injuries to your eye or current underlying health conditions, including diabetes.

Understanding your glaucoma diagnosis

If the pressure in your eye is raised and you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, Dr. Lau and Dr. Farson can discuss the type of glaucoma you have and how best to treat it.

The two main types of glaucoma include open-angle and angle-closure. In open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, the drainage canals in your eye become clogged over time. The open-angle description means the angle of your eye, where the iris and the cornea meet, is wide and open normally.

In angle-closure glaucoma, a less common condition, the angle between the cornea and iris is closed, leading to blocked drainage canals and a sudden increase in eye pressure. This type of glaucoma is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention.

Open-angle glaucoma is a life-long condition that doesn’t produce noticeable symptoms. It’s only through routine glaucoma tests that Dr. Lau and Dr. Farson can determine this type of diagnosis.

Treat options for different types of glaucoma

As open-angle glaucoma is a long-term issue, you may need to take medications or use special eye drops to maintain healthy pressure. Some medications can also reduce how much fluid is produced in the eye.

If medications aren’t enough to control eye pressure, you may be referred for surgery to improve eye drainage and prevent pressure from fluid build-up. Most surgeries involve laser technology and can be completed quickly on an outpatient basis.

Emergency treatment for angle-closure glaucoma usually requires surgery to remove the outer edge of the iris and unblock the clogged drainage canals that hold fluid. Surgical techniques may include laser treatments to make repairs or traditional open surgery.

In cases where only one eye is affected by angle-closure glaucoma, the surgeon will also work on the other eye to prevent complications.

Whether you need help managing your glaucoma or want to schedule a routine glaucoma test, call the staff at Mission Viejo Optometric Center today, or book a consultation online now. 


Written by Dr. Tanya Lau

Dr. Tanya Lau of Mission Viejo Optometric Center in Mission Viejo, California was born and raised in San Francisco and has been living in Southern California since 2012. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and double majored in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Psychology. She earned her doctorate in optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum in 2016. She completed her professional internships at Lawton Indian Health Hospital in Oklahoma, Palo Alto Veteran Affairs in California, and Camp Zama United States Armed Forces in Japan.
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