Secondary glaucoma

What is secondary glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain has become damaged. There are different types of glaucoma, the most common being primary open-angle glaucoma. Other types include acute angle closure, secondary glaucoma and childhood glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma is caused by an underlying eye condition. As with primary glaucoma, it can be of open-angle and angle-closure (which means there are various ways in that the eye pressure rises) and can occur in both eyes.

What conditions cause secondary glaucoma?

Secondary glaucoma is the result of another eye disease, which could be any of the following:

  • uveitis – inflammation of the inner eye
  • eye injury
  • bleeding inside the eye
  • an eye tumour
  • diabetes
  • congenital problems
  • steroid medication

What are the symptoms of secondary glaucoma?

There may be no symptoms during the early stages of secondary angle closure glaucoma. The condition is normally picked up by the eye specialist when the primary cause of glaucoma has been identified. As secondary glaucoma progresses, symptoms include the loss of field vision and using stairs becomes difficult. Reading and vision are still normally good. If left untreated, sight may be lost. Some patients report eye ache with cloudy vision.

How is secondary glaucoma diagnosed?

Secondary glaucoma is detected through regular routine eye examinations. Everyone aged-40 plus should have regular sight tests every two years to see if their eyesight has deteriorated. There are three eye tests to check for glaucoma. The first looks at the appearance of the main nerve in the eye (ophthalmoscopy). The second measures the pressure in the eye (tonometry), and the third glaucoma test checks the field of vision (perimetry).

How is secondary glaucoma treated?

The underlying condition is addressed first. Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent, which means that glaucoma therapy is started immediately to minimise any further damage. Treatment is important, even if in some cases vision appears normal, as it may get worse without the patient realising. The goal behind the treatment of glaucoma is to reduce the level of eye pressure to a point at which no further damage to the optic nerve is possible. This is achieved with a variety of means, including eye drops, tablets, laser eye treatment, and surgery.

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