Glaucoma is a group of diseases that involves the deterioration of the optic nerve tissue inside the eye. The optic nerve is the cable that connects the eye to the brain, which is responsible for allowing us to see by carrying the signal between the two. Glaucoma does not typically cause any symptoms in the early stages; therefore, most people are unaware that they have the disease. It isn’t until late in the progression when vision is affected, and a patient gradually loses peripheral (side) vision.
If left undetected or untreated, glaucoma can lead to total blindness. An eye care provider, an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect glaucoma through a comprehensive dilated eye examination.
There are multiple types of glaucoma, but the most common (open-angle) usually progresses slowly over time. Typically, it is caused by high pressure inside the eye, however, a person can get glaucoma even with normal eye pressure.
Slowing glaucoma progression requires treatment in the form of eye drops, laser, or other ocular surgery and is imperative because damage to the optic nerve is irreversible. An eye care provider will recommend the best treatment based on the individual and the stage of the disease. Risk factors for glaucoma include family history, African American or Hispanic/Latino race, and increased age (over 60).
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Here are some additional resources for this condition:
American Optometric Association – https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/glaucoma
American Academy of Ophthalmology – https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
National Institutes of Health – https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma
Prevent Blindness – https://www.preventblindness.org/glaucoma