The causes of glaucoma
Glaucoma is typically caused by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). This increase can cause progressive damage to the optic nerve. For some people, high eye pressure manifests solely as ocular hypertension. For others, including some with normal eye pressure, this damage results in glaucoma.
So, what causes this increase in IOP? It's a clear liquid called aqueous humour, which our eyes are constantly producing. This fluid nourishes the eye and is then drained out through the anterior chamber angle (or drainage angle). If the angle is damaged, the fluid can't drain properly. This leads to the eyes producing more fluid than they can drain, which causes a high IOP.
The increase in pressure begins to damage the optic nerve, which is made up of about one million nerve fibres. These nerve fibres are what connect the eye to the brain. When these fibres are harmed, they can cause irreversible vision loss.
Your risk of developing glaucoma
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but there are a few factors that could put you at a higher risk. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, is hereditary. If someone in your immediate family has glaucoma, your chance of acquiring it is several times higher than the average person. Your age can also be a factor, as glaucoma is more common among those aged 50 or older.