Top Causes of Glaucoma in Elderly Population

Characterized by ocular nerve damage, glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in the world. According to The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only 50% of them are aware that they have the disease. It is also the culprit behind 10 million doctor visits annually. If you have or are experiencing symptoms of Glaucoma, Eye Physicians & Surgeons of Arizona are happy to see patients in Scottsdale and Glendale.

The optic nerve is a light-sensing nerve that carries the images from retina to vision centers in the brain. In cases of glaucoma, optic nerve damage occurs when it is compressed by congestion of aqueous humor in the eye. Aqueous humor is a fluid that continuously bathes the cornea and lens, and is then drained to the venous circulation through the angle between the iris and the cornea. A block in this pathway slowly raises intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eyes). Consequently, the nerve suffers from loss of blood supply and nerve fibers. It shrinks and gradual loss of vision characterized by visual field defects follows thereafter.

While glaucoma may occur any time, its risk increases with age and the elderly are a vulnerable group. Here are the top causes of glaucoma in the elderly population:


Diabetes is characterized by increased glucose in the blood because the cells can’t take it in, either due to lack of insulin or diminished cell receptor sensitivity for glucose. It is a chronic disease that is often more prevalent in older age groups. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics.

Too viscous blood leads to sluggish blood flow causing the vessels to receive low blood supply. One of the affected areas is the eyes. Retinal blood vessels suffer from damage and this is replaced by newly-manufactured abnormal blood vessels. These abnormal blood vessels can grow on the iris and can block the drainage of aqueous humor leading to increased intraocular pressure. This type of glaucoma is called neovascular glaucoma.

Mechanical Injuries

As we age, our risk for injury caused by falls increases.  Trauma sustained by such injuries, especially on a repeating basis, can cause excess plasma and debris in the eye, eventually blocking the drainage canal or the aqueous humor. Intraocular pressure may begin to climb at this point, causing the onset of Glaucoma. The same chain of events can occur when penetrating eye injuries occur.


Secondary glaucoma can occur from prolonged use of certain drugs like steroids and those prescribed for conditions like depression, Parkinson’s disease, and allergies. They have the property to dilate the pupils, narrowing the angle between the iris and the cornea.


Systemic hypertension is characterized by increased pressure inside the vessels caused by the moving blood. Continuous elevated pressure, especially in the eyes, can damage optic nerve and glaucoma occurs as a result.

We believe that everyone in Arizona should be having regular eye exams to take care of their ocular health. This is especially important if you find that you are experiencing symptoms of Glaucoma or have prerequisites that may put you at higher risk for the disease, such as African-American heritage or a family history of Glaucoma.

Glaucoma workups are established for diagnosis and formulation of glaucoma treatment plan. The major goal of glaucoma treatment in Scottsdale is to prevent damage of optic nerve because glaucoma still has no cure up to this day. The damage may not be reversed but further damage can be controlled. If are experiencing symptoms of Glaucoma in Glendale or Scottsdale, schedule an appointment with the Eye Physicians & Surgeons of Arizona today!

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