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- Glaucoma facts
- What is glaucoma?
- How common is glaucoma?
- What causes glaucoma?
- What are glaucoma risk factors?
- What are the different types of glaucoma?
- What are glaucoma symptoms and signs?
- What specialists treat glaucoma?
- How do physicians diagnose glaucoma?
- How often should someone be screened for glaucoma?
- What is the treatment for glaucoma?
- What medications (eyedrops) treat glaucoma?
- What types of surgery or laser therapy treat glaucoma?
- What is the prognosis of glaucoma?
- Is it possible to prevent glaucoma?
- What is in the future for glaucoma?
Quick GuideCommon Eye Problems and Infections
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.
How common is glaucoma?
Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. In fact, as many as 6 million individuals are blind in both eyes from this disease. In the United States alone, according to one estimate, more than 3 million people have glaucoma. As many as half of these individuals with glaucoma may not know that they have the disease. The reason they are unaware of the presence of the disease is that glaucoma initially causes no symptoms, and the subsequent loss of side vision (peripheral vision) is usually not recognized.