Glaucoma is a common eye condition causing abnormally high pressure in the eye, which damages the optic nerve.


Glaucoma is a common eye condition causing abnormally high pressure in the eye, which damages the optic nerve. This results in progressive patterns of visual field loss and visual disturbances. A glaucoma attack is short in nature and poses an acute threat to the optic nerve and the eyesight. This emergency is accompanied by severe eye pain.


Typical signs
  • Damage to optic nerve, reduction in eyesight
  • Visual field losses (dark areas in the visual field)
  • Increased eye pressure (usually)
Acute glaucoma attack (angle-closure glaucoma)
  • Emergency: optic nerve can be irreparably damaged within a few hours
    • Waiting worsens the chances of saving the eyesight
  • Drainage of intraocular fluid is suddenly blocked
  • Intraocular pressure increases rapidly in a short time
  • Severe eye pain and headache
  • Eye is palpably hard and usually red
  • Vision is sometimes foggy or veiled
  • Seeing halos (colourful rings around lights)
  • Reduced eyesight
  • Possible accompanying symptoms: dizziness, nausea or vomiting
  • In some few cases, a glaucoma attack affects both eyes simultaneously
Chronic glaucoma (open-angle glaucoma)
  • Symptoms often go unnoticed
  • Progressive deterioration of eyesight
  • Seeing halos (colourful rings around lights) is possible
  • Progressive patterns of visual field loss
Congenital glaucoma
  • Affects newborns/babies
  • Tearful, unusually big eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eyelid cramp

Causes and treatment


  • Acute glaucoma
    • Condition: flat anterior chamber (e.g. in far-sightedness)
    • Trigger: chamber angle shifted by the iris, e.g. during fear reaction or darkness
    • Constant production of intraocular fluid, drainage channel in eye chamber is too narrow or has shifted, intraocular pressure rises
  • Chronic glaucoma
    • The cause is not known
  • Secondary glaucoma (can lead to a glaucoma attack)
    • Previous eye disorder or general illness
    • Medication (e.g. cortisone)
    • Eye injuries
  • Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination of eyeballs
  • Examination with slit lamp (anterior eye segment)
  • Ophthalmoscopy (examination of posterior eye segment)
  • Measurement of eye pressure
  • Visual field examination
Possible therapies
  • Reduce intraocular pressure (reduce production of intraocular fluid, improve drainage)
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Protect retina and optic nerve
  • Eye drops and medication are used
  • If insufficient: operation to reduce pressure in the eye

What can I do myself?

  • Pay attention to the eye’s warning signs
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle
  • Go for regular check-ups

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

When to see a doctor?

  • An acute glaucoma attack requires immediate attention (emergency situation)
  • Surreal optic phenomena (flashes, fog, colourful rings around lights)
  • Chronic recurrent headaches
  • Progressive deterioration of eyesight
  • Regular check-ups (every 2 years) with eye doctor from the age of 40


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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.