Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the nerve fibers in your optic nerve and causes permanent vision loss. It is often accompanied by an increase in intraocular pressure. The increase in pressure happens when the passages that normally allow fluid in your eyes to drain become clogged or blocked. The reasons that the passages become blocked are not known.
The most common type of glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly, without symptoms.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. It most often occurs in people over age 40. People with a family history of glaucoma, African-Americans, and those who are very nearsighted or diabetic are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored. That is why the American Optometric Association recommends annual eye examinations for people at risk for glaucoma (your doctor may depending on your condition, recommend more frequent examinations).
Noticeable symptoms of glaucoma may be a gradual loss of side vision (left) or blurred vision (right).
The most common type of glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly, without symptoms. A rarer type occurs rapidly and its symptoms may include blurred vision, loss of side vision, seeing colored rings around lights and pain or redness in the eyes.
A comprehensive optometric examination will include a tonometry test to measure the pressure in your eyes; an examination of the inside of your eyes and optic nerves; and a visual field test to check for changes in central and side vision and pachymetry to measure the thickness of your cornea. Recent research has found that corneal thickness is closely related to the inside of the eye pressure.
The treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops to lower the pressure in your eyes. In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be necessary to reduce this pressure.
Vision lost to Glaucoma cannot be restored.
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