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Glaucoma is a prevalent eye disease around the world. It is the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts. Glaucoma is characterized by a sharp increase in liquid pressure on the optic nerve. It has been nicknamed “the silent thief of sight” as its development takes place over a lifetime. It is very hard to detect as symptoms rarely physically develop until very late into the disease’s lifespan.

There are two main types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is painless, and tends to develop very slowly. Conditions like blindness are very rare as open-angle can be treated effectively with surgery and medication through the patient’s lifetime. However, open-angle can lead to a reduce vision field after many years. Close-angle involves more severe symptoms. Acute pain can occur suddenly. This is accompanied with redness and swelling of the eye. Close-angle must be treated immediately if one is to prevent permanent vision loss.

Normal tension glaucoma is open-angle. It has the same effects as open-angle, except the pressure on the optic nerve is less, thus making the process slower; pain is unlikely.

Pigmentary glaucoma is caused by part of the colored iris blocking the liquid flow of the eyes. This will cause an inflammation of the drainage systems of the eye. The most common symptom is pain and blurry vision after strenuous activity.

Glaucoma induced by trauma is called secondary glaucoma. This type may also lead to further inflammation or infection.

Congenital glaucoma is glaucoma inherited at birth. This is characterized by the clogging of the drainage system and a haziness or cloudiness appearing over the eye.

Glaucoma is three times more likely in African-Americans than in Whites. It also affects Hispanic, Latino, and Filipino populations in similar rates. Senior citizens and diabetics are also at risk for developing glaucoma. There is evidence that it is genetic and so those with family members who have glaucoma should also be examined. Tests for glaucoma are not a part of a routine eye exam. You should discuss with your doctor about having a test done if you experience any of the symptoms or are in an at-risk demographic. Vision loss is irreversible, but catching the disease early can help slow the progression of permanent damage.

Prevention of glaucoma does not involve anything in addition to living a healthy lifestyle. Doctors say that maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital to preventing glaucoma. A healthy diet and exercise can reduce the risk of developing glaucoma later in life.