What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a potentially blinding disease which involves damage to the optic nerve (see diagram).  The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual information from the retina to the brain.  A damaged optic nerve cannot repair itself and blind spots in the vision are the result.  

What causes Glaucoma?
Although the precise mechanism of glaucoma is not known, most types of glaucoma involve an increased pressure within the eye.  The normal eye pressure is controlled by fluid inside the eye.  Uncontrolled high eye pressure leads to optic nerve damage, causing vision loss.

How is Glaucoma diagnosed?

At first there are generally no symptoms from glaucoma.  Glaucoma is diagnosed during a complete eye exam.  Glaucoma can be successfully controlled, so early detection is crucial.

How is Glaucoma treated?

Most patients with glaucoma can be successfully managed with medicated eye drops.  These drops do not cure glaucoma, but prevent vision loss from optic nerve damage.  Some patients not successfully treated with eye drops may require laser treatment or eye surgery to control their glaucoma.

  photos courtesy of National Eye Institute, NIH