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Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions which can cause vision loss.

The eyes are filled with a watery substance called aqueous humour which helps to keep the eyeball in the correct shape. Aqueous humour is produced within the eye and then flows out. The production and drainage of aqueous humour usually occurs at the same rate, so the pressure in the eye stays equal. Glaucoma occurs when the tubes that normally drain fluid from the eye become blocked. This causes pressure in the eye, called intraocular pressure, to build up as the fluid cannot drain properly. The rise in pressure in the eye causes damage to the optic nerve (the nerve that takes information from the eye to the brain) and this can lead to visual impairment. Glaucoma often affects both eyes but it may develop and progress at a quicker rate in one eye compared to the other.

There are 3 main types of glaucoma that affect adults:

• Primary open-angle glaucoma. This is also called chronic glaucoma.
• Acute angle-closure glaucoma
• Secondary glaucoma

In the UK around 2% of people over the age of 40 and 5% of people over the age of 80 will have some type of glaucoma.

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Useful links

  • The Health A-Z section of this website contains information of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of many types of illnesses.  It also includes video interviews with specialists and patients.  NHS inform is a new national health information service providing a single source of quality assured health information for the public in Scotland.

  • SHOW (Scotland's Health on the Web) provides information on more than 100 topics covering all aspects of healthy living and advice on coping with long-term health conditions as well as the NHS and health services.


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