There are several different types of glaucoma, which can have different symptoms, causes and treatments.

The main types include:

Primary open angle glaucoma

Primary open angle glaucoma, sometimes called chronic open angle glaucoma, is the most common type.

In this type of glaucoma, the part of the eye where fluid drains away (called the "angle") isn't blocked, but the fluid doesn't drain properly. This leads to increased pressure in the eye.

The condition usually develops very slowly over many years and doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms at first.

People often don't realise they have it because the outer areas of vision (peripheral vision) are affected first. Without treatment, vision towards the centre of the eye may also be lost.

Primary open angle glaucoma is usually picked up during a routine eye test, which you should have at least every two years. Visit an opticians or your GP if you're worried about any changes in your vision.

Primary angle closure glaucoma

Primary angle closure glaucoma is a less common type that occurs when the part of the eye that drains fluid becomes blocked, causing pressure to build up in the eye.

It occasionally develops slowly over time, but often it causes sudden, severe symptoms.

Symptoms can include:

  • intense eye pain
  • red eye
  • headache
  • tenderness around the eyes
  • seeing halos or "rainbow-like" rings around lights
  • blurred vision
  • feeling and being sick

Sometimes these symptoms may last for a few hours before disappearing.

If you experience sudden symptoms, go to your nearest eye casualty unit or accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible. This is a medical emergency that may require immediate treatment.

Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is an uncommon type of glaucoma caused by another eye problem.

Causes include uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), eye injuries and certain treatments, such as medication or operations.

The symptoms can vary considerably, and may include:

  • gradual loss of peripheral vision
  • blurred vision
  • seeing halos or "rainbow-like" rings around lights
  • eye pain
  • a red eye

Visit an opticians or your GP if you're worried about any changes in your vision. Go to your nearest eye casualty unit or accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible if you have severe symptoms that occurred suddenly.

Childhood glaucoma

Childhood glaucoma, also called congenital or developmental glaucoma, is a type of glaucoma that affects babies and young children.

It's usually the result of a problem in the development of the eyes, which causes fluid and pressure to build up inside them.

Spotting the condition can be difficult, but your child may have some of the following symptoms:

  • larger eyes than usual
  • dislike of bright lights
  • uncontrollable blinking
  • red, watery or cloudy eyes
  • rubbing their eyes frequently

Visit an opticians or your GP if you notice any of these symptoms in your child.

Page last reviewed: 16/09/2016

Next review due: 16/09/2019