Glaucoma is a group of conditions that cause optic nerve damage that results in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. Glaucoma in the early stages is asymptomatic and many people don't realize they have it until the disease is at an advanced stage. However, if glaucoma is caught early and treated, you can protect your eyes against serious damage and vision loss. That's why it's important to have your eyes examined regularly and that your doctor examines your intraocular pressure (IOP).
No one knows what really causes glaucoma. It is known that increased IOP causes nerve damage to the optic nerve. When aqueous humor, the liquid produced in the front of your eye, doesn't drain properly, the pressure builds within your eye. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris may become obstructed, thus causing the increase in pressure.
The symptoms of glaucoma are a gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes; blurred vision; halos around light; severe eye pain often accompanied by nausea and vomiting; and tunnel vision, which occurs in later stages.
DID YOU KNOW?
Glaucoma is not a very well understood disease. Here are some facts about who glaucoma affects and when it is likely to strike:
- Everyone older than 60, especially Mexican Americans is at increased risk for glaucoma.
- African Americans over the age of 40 are at increased risk.
- A family history of glaucoma seems to predispose you to glaucoma.
- Diabetics have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
- People with high blood pressure and/or heart disease have an increased chance of developing glaucoma.
- People who have had eye injuries or other eye conditions have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
- Nearsightedness increases the risk of developing glaucoma.
- Glaucoma does not seem to have a gender preference.
- Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness.
- Over 4 million Americans have glaucoma but only 50 percent know they have it.
- Glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans.
- There may be no symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma.
- Babies can be born with glaucoma.
- About 2 percent of people ages 40-50 and 8 percent over 70 have elevated intraocular pressure, which is the cause of glaucoma.
- There is no cure for glaucoma, but with medication and/or surgery you can halt further loss of vision.
- Approximately 10 percent of people with glaucoma still experience loss of vision even with proper treatment.
IN THIS SECTION
FAQs - Glaucoma
Know Before You Go