Glaucoma

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View the Eye Diseases and Conditions Slideshow Pictures
Learn about glaucoma tests and types, and find out if you're at risk.

Glaucoma Test

Save Your Sight - Glaucoma Screening

Glaucoma is the term applied to a group of eye diseases that gradually result in loss of vision by permanently damaging the optic nerve, the nerve that transmits visual images to the brain. The leading cause of irreversible blindness, glaucoma often produces no symptoms until it is too late and vision loss has begun.


Picture of glaucoma

Quick GuideEye Problems Pictures Slideshow: Recognize These Common Eye Conditions

Eye Problems Pictures Slideshow: Recognize These Common Eye Conditions

Glaucoma facts

  • Glaucoma is a disease that is often associated with elevated intraocular pressure, in which damage to the eye (optic) nerve can lead to loss of vision and even blindness.
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.
  • Glaucoma usually causes no symptoms early in its course, at which time it can only be diagnosed by regular eye examinations (screenings with the frequency of examination based on age and the presence of other risk factors).
  • Intraocular pressure increases when either too much fluid is produced in the eye or the drainage or outflow channels (trabecular meshwork) of the eye become blocked.
  • While anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at greater risk.
  • The two main types of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma, which has several variants and is a long duration (chronic) condition, and angle-closure glaucoma, which may be either a sudden (acute) condition or a chronic disease.
  • Damage to the optic nerve and impairment of vision from glaucoma are irreversible.
  • Several painless tests that determine the intraocular pressure, the status of the optic nerve and drainage angle, and visual fields are used to diagnose the presence of glaucoma and monitor its progression.
  • Glaucoma is usually treated with eyedrops, although lasers and surgery can also be used. Most cases can be controlled well with these treatments, thereby preventing further loss of vision.
  • Much research into the causes and treatment of glaucoma is being carried out throughout the world.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preserving sight in people with glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the major nerve of vision, called the optic nerve. The optic nerve receives light-generated nerve impulses from the retina and transmits these to the brain, where we recognize those electrical signals as vision. Glaucoma is characterized by a particular pattern of progressive damage to the optic nerve that generally begins with a subtle loss of side vision (peripheral vision). If glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can progress to loss of central vision and blindness.

Glaucoma is usually, but not always, associated with elevated pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). Generally, it is this elevated eye pressure that leads to damage of the eye (optic) nerve. In some cases, glaucoma may occur in the presence of normal eye pressure. This form of glaucoma is believed to be caused by poor regulation of blood flow to the optic nerve.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Glaucoma - Effective Treatments

    What kinds of treatments have been effective for your glaucoma?

    Post View 17 Comments
  • Glaucoma - Risk Factors

    Did you or a relative have any of the risk factors for glaucoma when diagnosed? If so, what were they?

    Post
  • Glaucoma - Symptoms

    Describe the signs and symptoms associated with glaucoma in you, a friend, or relative.

    Post View 4 Comments
  • Glaucoma - Diagnosis

    What tests or exams led to a diagnosis of glaucoma?

    Post
  • Glaucoma - Surgery Experience

    Please share your experience with surgery for glaucoma. Was this for you or a relative?

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors