What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve, a cable that carries visual information from the eye to the brain.
In open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, fluid passing through the anterior chamber drains too slowly, leading to increased intraoccular pressure (IOP). This pressure can damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss or blindness. High blood pressure is also a risk factor.
There are two types of glaucoma:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma: Blockage is caused by material shed by the inner eye, inflammation, or scarring from an injury or infection
- Angle-closure glaucoma: The iris is too close to the drainage angle and eventually grows over it
Glaucoma has a hereditary factor and often does not appear until after age 60; however, the disease can be present in young patients and even newborn babies.
High eye pressure alone does not cause glaucoma, although it is a significant risk factor. Individuals diagnosed with high eye pressure should have regular, comprehensive eye examinations by an eye-care professional to monitor signs of glaucoma.
Currently, vision loss from glaucoma cannot be restored. Early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss. Glaucoma is treated with medication to lower pressure in the eye and, in some cases, with surgery.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.