Normal-tension glaucoma: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

By: Dr. Victor Marchione
Normal-tension glaucoma is a type of glaucoma in which the optic nerve damage and vision loss occur even though there are normal levels of tension in the eye. Typically, glaucoma is caused by high eye pressure. Which leads to damage of the optic nerve, but in normal-tension glaucoma, this is not the case.
Eye pressure, known as intraocular pressure, is measured in millimeters of mercury, just like your blood pressure. A normal eye pressure reading is between 10 to 21 mm Hg. Typical glaucoma patient’s readings of eye pressure are over 21 mm Hg.  In normal-tension glaucoma readings are appear to be normal, yet damage still exists.
Normal-tension glaucoma is similar to primary open-angle glaucoma. In the U.S., 15 to 25 percent of glaucoma patients have normal-tension glaucoma.

Causes and symptoms of normal-tension glaucoma

Normal-tension glaucoma isn’t completely understood. It is believed to be caused by either an unusual fragile optic nerve. That can still become damaged under normal pressure or a reduction in blood flow to the eyes.
Many patients with normal-tension glaucoma do not experience any symptoms. This can be problematic, because by the time it is caught by your eye specialist it may have already progressed quite a bit. It’s important to go for regular eye exams in order to check for any changes in your vision or eye pressure.
Patients may experience some level of vision loss as the disease progresses, and at that point there is already a significant amount of damage to the optic nerve. In this case, the damage to the optic nerve and vision loss are permanent.

Diagnosis and tests for normal-tension glaucoma

As mentioned, the best way to be tested for normal-tension glaucoma is through a regular eye exam. Your eye doctor can measure your eye pressure, including optic blood pressure, in order to rule out ocular hypertension.
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Source: Bel Marra Health