How can an eye injury cause glaucoma?
Each year more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the United States. Eye injuries can lead to several eye problems including glaucoma which is usually caused by a blunt force trauma to the eye. The natural drain (trabecular meshwork) of the eye sits at the base of the iris and circles around the inside of the eye for 360 degrees.
When a blunt force compresses the eye, the shearing forces can cause the trabecular meshwork to tear or bleed. Tearing and bleeding results in scarring of the trabecular meshwork, reducing its ability to drain fluid. This may lead to elevated eye pressure which can damage the nerve in the back of the eye (glaucoma).
How likely am I to develop glaucoma after an eye injury?
Damage to the internal drainage system of the eye occurs in 75% of blunt eye injuries. The amount of damaged drain is predictive of the risk for glaucoma. When more than half of the drain is damaged, the risk is about 10%. This can develop many years after the initial damage. Therefore, it is crucial for someone who has sustained such an injury to have periodic eye exams for the rest of their life so that, if glaucoma develops, it can be detected and treated before significant vision loss occurs.