What Is Glaucoma & How Do You Get It?

January 25, 2023

When medical professionals talk about glaucoma, they often refer to it as the “silent thief of sight”. Which sounds scary, right?  So what really is glaucoma and how do you get it?

Let’s talk about aqueous humor.  This is the clear liquid found inside the front part of your eye.  This liquid is what gives your eye its shape and keeps it “inflated”.  The eye constantly is making small amounts of aqueous humor, an equal amount flows into the eye and an equal amount flows out through a small drain in the eye called the drainage angle. This process is what keeps pressure in the eye stable.

Imbalances in the creation and drainage of this clear fluid can lead to pressure build up in the eye, called intraocular pressure.  This high pressure is a major part of glaucoma and can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye, impairing vision sometimes permanently if left untreated.

So how do you get glaucoma?

There are two different types: open-angle and closed-angle.

Open angle glaucoma is the most common type.  It happens over time, where the drainage angle starts to not drain completely, like a clogged drain of a sink. Because of this, eye pressure builds and damage to the optic nerve begins.

The scariest thing? This most common type, is painless and typically does not cause vision changes at first until damage is already done.  Hence the importance of routine eye exams to catch the early signs.

Then there is closed-angle glaucoma (also called “angle-closure” or “narrow-angle” glaucoma). This type occurs when the iris is too close to the drainage angle and ends up clocking it.  When the drainage gets blocked completely, eye pressure will rise quickly.  

Here are the signs you are experiencing an acute closed-angle attack:

  • You have extreme eye pain
  • Your vision blurs suddenly
  • Onset of a headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • You notice rainbow colored rings around lights

While the onset of symptoms can be quick, this type of glaucoma also develops slowly.  Again, there are no symptoms at first and they don’t know they have it until the damage is severe and they have an acute attack.

Angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness if not managed and treated immediately.

So who is at risk?

Anyone is at risk. But some people are at a higher risk, this includes people who:

  • -Age 40+
  • -family history of glaucoma
  • -are of African, Hispanic or Asian Heritage
  • -have high eye pressure
  • – are farsighted or nearsighted
  • – have had an eye injury
  • -use long-term steroid medications
  • – have corneas with thin centers
  • -show thinning of the optic nerve
  • -those with diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure and/or poor blood circulation

Talk to your ophthalmologist about your risk of getting glaucoma and make sure you don’t miss your routine eye exam.

What Our Patients Think

  • Riley Hart /
  • Staci Hamlett /
    I couldn't recommend a better doctor, a better facility, and I'm so glad I did it.
  • Brenda Edson in front of a brick home
    Brenda Edson /
    "I could not have asked for a better experience at Piedmont Eye Center. From my very first visit, the staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and genuinely interested in me."
  • Bobby Moore /
    "I wish I would have done it many years ago now."
  • Bryan Mitchell outside of a football stadium
    Bryan Mitchell / ANALYST
    "My vision was the best it had been since I was a teen. I had my LASIK surgery performed almost 2 years ago, and it is as good today as it was then."
  • Caroline Trexler /
    "They ensured that the entire process from preliminary appointments to follow up visits went seamlessly – the perfect team that gave me perfect vision."
    "All and all, this has been a very pleasant and beneficial period for me. I recommend it highly for anyone in a similar situation.'
  • Cynthia Stewart standing outside
    Cynthia /
    "I feel almost like a new person It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up in the morning and be able to actually see across the room without fumbling for my glasses. "
  • Frances / RETIRED
    "Dr. Ceballos has always been very positive, clarifying everything medically, never leaving me in doubt and has always made me feel special and important."
  • Guy / RETIRED
    "The procedure was painless, and now I’m happy to say I only wear glasses to read. I have 20/20 vision in my left eye and 20/25 in my right. "
  • Janice Bloom standing in front of a tree
    "Dr. Bowers and his staff treated me with the utmost in professional care, making sure I was comfortable throughout the entire process."
  • Barbara / RETIRED
    "The procedure was pain free and I am so pleased with the results. It was money well spent and it is unbelievable how clear and colorful everything is. I want to tell Dr. Bowers and his staff how grateful I am."
  • Jerome / RETIRED
    "Doctor Vogel has treated me professionally as has his staff. They have been caring and have answered my questions to my satisfaction."
  • Jon Dupin standing outside of a brick home
    Jon Dupin / PASTOR
    "LASIK is not just a medical advancement to me; it’s a miracle"
  • Josh Brewer / HUMANITARIAN AID
    "Because of Dr. Bowers and his team at Piedmont Eye Center, my everyday life is now a whole lot easier. "
  • Judy Bowman / MISSIONARY
    "My experience of having Laser Vision Correction was fantastic. Dr. Bowers and all his staff are so knowledgeable and professional, yet very personal, warm, caring, and friendly."
  • Lucy standing in a classroom
    Lucy /
    "Dr. Bowers and his team were very comforting. The next morning, I opened my eyes and was able to see the alarm clock across the room, which I was never able to see before. It was a miracle!"
  • Martha Ann / GRANDMOTHER
    "It is a wonderful feeling to have no RX lenses. I want to thank Dr. Bowers and the Surgery Center for the freedom I feel.”
  • Monica Shelton / Featured Patient
    "Everyone told me what they were going to be doing to me and what to expect every step of the way. My experience with Piedmont Eye Center and Dr. Bowers and the whole LASIK team was awesome!"
  • Adelia / RETIRED
    "God led me to Dr. Vogel. He is absolutely the most wonderful doctor in the world. Not only is he a great doctor, he is a great ‘people person’. You always feel safe with him."
  • Penny Abbot in front of a home
    Penny Abbott / Financial Consultant
    "From the great staff who helped me, to the simplicity of setting up my flexible spending account, to my complete satisfaction and enjoyment of having clear sight, this has been an easy process."
    "The staff at Piedmont eased my nerves and the procedure was swift and smooth."
  • Sue Earsing and lasik eye surgery
    "I have always seen the world through glasses or contacts, so the sharpness of vision I have now was never there before."
    “Dr. Bowers not only met my expectations, he surpassed them. I had no idea that vision like this was possible. I no longer struggle in the shadows of a course- everything is clearer.”
  • Troy Doss
    "Piedmont Eye Center takes care of the little things to make LASIK a comfortable process."
Read More Testimonials