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Glaucoma – Symptoms, causes and other risk factors

Glaucoma is an eye condition where your optic nerve becomes damages. This is a nerve which connects your eye to your brain. If the glaucoma is not detected and treated early on, then this can lead to loss of vision. This condition is usually happening when the fluid in your eye cannot drain properly which is increasing the pressure inside your eye and this puts pressure on your optic nerve. [1] This is a common condition but many people do not know that they have it because this condition does not always cause symptoms in the early stages. This condition can affect every single person in which are also included babies and young children. But the glaucoma is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s. [2]

Types: There are several different types of glaucoma which can have different causes, symptoms and treatments. The main types of glaucoma are:

Childhood glaucoma: A rare type that affects babies and young children

  • Symptoms: rubbing their eyes frequently, red watery or cloudy eyes, uncontrollable blinking, dislike of bright lights, larger eyes than usual

Secondary glaucoma: An uncommon type caused by another eye condition

  • Symptoms: a red eye, eye pain, seeing halos around lights, blurred vision gradual loss of peripheral vision

Primary angle closure glaucoma: This is a less common type that can cause sudden, severe symptoms

  • Symptoms: feeling and being sick, intense eye pain, a headache, a red eye, blurred vision, tenderness around the eyes, seeing halos around lights

Primary open angle glaucoma: This is the most common type that often has few symptoms

Symptoms of glaucoma

This condition does not usually have a symptom to begin with and glaucoma is often only picked up during a routine eye test. There are many people who do not realize that they have glaucoma because it can develop slowly over many years and this condition tends to cause a loss of peripheral vision (the edge of your vision) at first.  Usually both eyes are affected but this condition can be worse in one eye. If you leave this condition untreated, then it can eventually lead to blindness. In very rare cases, this condition can develop suddenly and it can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing rings around the lights
  • Tenderness around the eyes
  • A headache
  • A red eye
  • Intense eye pain

GlaucomaCauses of Glaucoma

There are many factors which can lead to glaucoma. There are many cases which are caused by a build – up of pressure in your eye. Our eyeball is filled with a aqueous humour which is a watery filled substance and it creates pressure in your eye to give it shape. When you have healthy eyes, then this fluid constantly flows in and out of the eye. This condition can happen if the fluid is unable to drain from the eye properly which is resulting in a build – up of fluid and pressure in your eye. This increase in the pressure is damaging your optic nerve (which is the nerve that is connecting your eye to the brain). In many cases the real cause for it is not known, although there are some things which can increase the risk of it happening and in a few cases an underlying cause is identified. There is a small number of cases in which is fount the cause for glaucoma. Possible causes include:

  • A problem with the way the eyes developed: This can cause glaucoma in babies and young children. [3]
  • Eye injuries or previous eye surgery [4]
  • Long – term use of steroid eye drops [5]
  • Uveitis: This is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye [6]
  • New blood vessels growing inside the eye that block the drainage of fluid
  • When you have a build – up of deposits in the drainage tubes in your eye: A common example is a condition called pseudoexfoliation glaucoma

Risk factors: There are some factors which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma and they include:

  • Family history: This is also one of the most common factors which can lead to glaucoma. If you have a close relative, such as a parent, brother or sister who has glaucoma, you are at increased risk of developing it yourself. [7]
  • Ethnic origin: People who have African, Afro – Caribbean or Asian origin are at increased risk of developing certain types of glaucoma
  • Age: This conditions is becoming more likely as you get older. This is the most common type (primary open angle glaucoma) affects up to 2 in 100 people over 40 and around 10 in 100 people over 75. [8]
  • Other medical conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, long – sightedness and short sightedness can increase your risk of glaucoma


[1] National Eye Institute. Glaucoma. Retrieved from

[2] Yenegeta Z, Tsega A, Addis Y, Admassu F. Knowledge of glaucoma and associated factors among adults in Gish Abay town, Northwest Ethiopia. BMC Ophthalmology. 2020.

[3] Papadopoulos M, Cable N, Rahi J, et al. The British Infantile and Childhood Glaucoma (BIG) eye study. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2007;48(9):4100-6.

[4] Kim YJ, Yun SC, Na JH, et al. Glaucoma progression in eyes with a history of refractive corneal surgery. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2012;53:4485-9.

[5] Phulke S, Kaushik S, Kaur S, Pandav SS. Steroid-induced glaucoma: An avoidable irreversible blindness. Journal of Current Glaucoma Practice. 2017;11(2):67–72.

[6] Cunningham ET, Zierhut M. Uveitic ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Ocular Immunology and Inflammation. 2017;25(6):737-9.

[7] McMonnies CW. Glaucoma history and risk factors. Journal of Optometry. 2017;10(2):71–8.

[8] Glaucoma UK. Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). Retrieved from

Dr. Emil Sarsath (aka) Vijila, a licensed naturopathic doctor (BSMS) who always ensures his patients receive compassionate, and individualized care. He has extensive experience in primary care, digestive health, mental health, nervous system disorder and more.Area of Expertise – Naturopathic Medicine, Whole Foods-based Nutrition, Siddha, Panchakarma.She is always available through [email protected]



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