The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Glaucoma

The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Glaucoma

The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Glaucoma

The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Glaucoma

While there are many different types of glaucoma, ophthalmologists usually group them into two main categories. These are chronic glaucoma and acute glaucoma. All kinds of glaucoma in both categories result from damage to the optic nerve, which can eventually cause blindness. 


What Is Glaucoma?


Various eye conditions can damage your optic nerve. These conditions are what eye doctors call glaucoma. The health of your optic nerve is vital for good vision. Often, damage results from too much pressure in the eye. 


Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss for individuals over 60. However, it can develop at any age. Unfortunately, some forms of glaucoma do not come with warning signs. Their effects are so gradual that many people do not notice any changes in vision until the advanced stages of the condition.


Chronic vs. Acute Glaucoma


Of the two categories, chronic glaucoma is more common. It typically develops so slowly that most people do not notice it until the advanced stages. If you have this form of glaucoma, it may take years to detect vision loss. You may never experience any discomfort.


Acute glaucoma, however, is different since it causes symptoms one cannot ignore. You may experience nausea, significant pain, and vision changes if you have acute glaucoma. 


Open-Angle Glaucoma 


To understand the differences between acute and chronic glaucoma, do not think of the condition as one vision-stealing monster. Instead, think of it as a monster that can take many forms. Some of these forms are slow to appear, while others come on suddenly. 


According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, GRF, open-angle is the most prevalent form of glaucoma. About three million Americans have this condition. When eye care professionals discuss chronic glaucoma, they usually refer to open-angle glaucoma. 


Angle-Closure Glaucoma


The acute form of the condition is what experts call angle-closure glaucoma. According to the International Glaucoma Foundation, this condition develops when eye drainage halts suddenly. That usually happens when the iris moves forward and blocks the gap between the cornea and the iris. This dramatic event is a medical emergency.


Symptoms of Glaucoma


Some of the symptoms you experience can help you determine whether you are living with a chronic or acute form of glaucoma. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, acute glaucoma often comes with the following symptoms:


  • Headaches

  • Blurred vision

  • Vision changes

  • Severe eye pain

  • Nausea and vomiting


You should take these symptoms seriously and call your eye doctor as soon as they appear. If you cannot reach your eye doctor, you should visit the emergency room for quick action, which may spare your vision. By contrast, chronic glaucoma comes with no symptoms. 


Since vision loss resulting from glaucoma is irreversible, it is essential to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams. These exams should include measurements of the pressure in your eye. That will make it possible to diagnose the condition in its early stages, which will help your eye doctor determine the appropriate treatment. If caught early, it can slow down or even prevent vision loss.


For more on chronic and acute glaucoma, call Quality Eye Care at  (904) 601-1300 to reach our office in Jacksonville or Gainesville, Florida.

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