We are frequently asked to explain how glaucoma causes blindness. Glaucomatous damage to the eye is caused when the pressure within the eye is greater than the optic nerve can tolerate. How does the pressure cause blindess? The simple answer is we don’t know exactly, however there are two main theories as to why the damage occurs. Neither theory fully explains how the optic nerve damage occurs in the different types of glaucoma.
The Vascular Theory of Glaucoma
The premise of the vascular theory is that high pressure inside the eye restricts blood flow to the optic nerve causing the optic nerve to slowly die from lack of oxygen and nutrients.
The Mechanical Theory of Glaucoma
Physical damage is the underlying hypothesis of the mechanical theory of glaucoma. It is thought that the high pressure damages the optic nerve fibers.
So Which One Is It?
That’s a good question the leading researchers can make a convincing case for both theories and neither theory, by itself can completely explain how glaucoma damages the eye. In reality both probably play a role in how an eye is damaged by glaucoma.