Seeing Better Than You Have Before

Understanding More About The Rare Forms Of Glaucoma That Steal Vision

by Linda Bates

While primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of the disorder, there are less common forms. Glaucoma is an overall term used to describe a group of eye diseases that can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve, yet not everyone in the general public know about the rare forms of glaucoma that exist. Despite there being no cure for glaucoma, there is treatment available that can help preserve vision. However, early detection and treatment of either common or rare types of glaucoma are keys to preventing total vision loss.

Irido Corneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)

Irido corneal endothelial syndrome -- referred to as ICE -- is one of several rare types of glaucoma. This form of the disease differs from others in that it usually is found only in one eye. Increased eye pressure from cells in the interior of the cornea that grow and spread across the surface of the iris can eventually damage the optic nerve.

The syndrome is more common among women with symptoms usually occurring during middle age. Symptoms may include halos around lights, corneal swelling, pupil distortion, holes in the iris, and hazy vision when you first wake. Although symptoms may not be present early on in the disease, ICE is a progressive eye disorder that can lead to secondary glaucoma and severe vision loss if left untreated. Treatment includes anti-glaucoma medications and trabeculectomy -- filtration surgery that creates an opening that allows fluid to drain out of the eye.

Neovascular Glaucoma

Often associated with diabetes, neovascular glaucoma -- another secondary glaucoma -- is characterized by new blood vessels on the iris forming over the eye's drainage channels around the outer edge of the iris. These abnormal vessels block excess fluid from flowing out of the eye causing an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye.

Symptoms may include headache, sensitivity to bright light, nausea or vomiting, dull eye pain, and reduced visual acuity. Like iridocorneal endothelial syndrome, this type of glaucoma is difficult to treat. The treatment options available include glaucoma medications to lower intraocular pressure, topical steroids, surgery (trabeculectomy), treatment of the underlying cause, and panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) -- laser treatment -- to slow or stop the growth of blood vessels that can block the drainage channel.

Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome

Pseudoexfoliation syndrome -- also known as exfoliation glaucoma -- is a systemic disease with eye symptoms that present with what looks like a white, flaky substance that collects between the cornea and iris. The syndrome, which occurs more often in women than men and usually after age 50, is the most common cause of secondary glaucoma in the world, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

As these protein fibers block the drainage of fluid from the eye, the condition causes an increase in intraocular pressure. This build up of pressure can lead to optic nerve damage and glaucoma. Symptoms include poor pupillary response to dilation and peripheral field vision loss. Although doctors often start treatment with the use of glaucoma medications to lower intraocular pressure, laser therapy usually follows. Contact a company like North Central Eye Associates Inc for more information.