Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve becomes damaged which then results in blindness. Once thought to be only a high eye pressure problem, glaucoma is now known to be a more complex condition. New medical research has found that some people’s optic nerves are more vulnerable to an abnormal pressure gradient within the eye. When this occurs, the optic nerve tissue slowly dies and vision is damaged.
Open angle glaucoma, the most common form, has no symptoms until a substantial amount of peripheral vision is lost.
Risk factors for glaucoma are:
- African ancestry
- Family history
- Certain anatomical eye features
An adult eye exam includes an eye pressure measurement called tonometry as well as an evaluation of the optic nerve. An eye doctor may become suspicious of glaucoma during this exam and order special tests to help in making the diagnosis of glaucoma. Treatments for glaucoma include various categories of prescription eyedrops that affect the eye pressure gradient. Eye surgery is also utilized when other glaucoma treatments fail to control the vision loss.