Glaucoma develops when the fluid within the eye's anterior chamber doesn't drain fluid quickly enough. This leads to pressure within the eye, which in turn damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve, which transmits visual information, must be fully functioning for vision. When the optic nerve is damaged, vision failure and total loss of vision can occur. The reason for the pressure increase in the anterior chamber can vary. Often, an infection or a tumor is responsible for this pressure increase. A sudden eye injury may also result in an anterior chamber pressure increase.
Glaucoma is most prevalent in people who are 40 or older, and it is particularly common in people who are over the age of 60. African Americans and Hispanics are the 2 racial groups who are at an elevated risk for glaucoma, but people of any race can develop this disease. Genetics can play a role in glaucoma: People whose parents have glaucoma may be more likely to have it themselves. Glaucoma is currently the most common cause of blindness in America.
For most people, glaucoma is a silent disease. It usually has no symptoms, so it is very important for a patient to have regular eye exams, especially if they are in one of the high-risk groups for glaucoma. Once glaucoma has advanced, people may notice fading side vision. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated, this will eventually become a complete loss of vision.
There are several medical approaches to glaucoma. Although there is no cure, treatment can prevent further damage from occurring. The treatment path depends on the stage of the disease and the specific patient. Medicated eye drops, prescription medication, and surgical procedures are all treatment possibilities. As long as the disease is treated, vision can be preserved.