Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is a progressive disease of the optic nerve characterized by a specific pattern of optic nerve head and visual field damage.
Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma represents a final common pathway resulting from a number of different conditions that can affect the eye, many of which are associated with elevated eye pressure.
What are the Risk Factors of Glaucoma?
Although pressure is clearly a risk factor, we now know other factors must also be involved. Even people with “normal” pressure can experience vision loss from glaucoma. People at the greatest risk include those who are over the age of 40, diabetic, near-sighted, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
- Vision loss from glaucoma is usually gradual and without warning.
- Elevated intraocular pressure is often not sensed by patients.
- In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms at all.
- Experts estimate that half of the people affected by glaucoma may not know they have it.