What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. It usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are no symptoms at first. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral, or side vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.
A comprehensive eye exam can detect glaucoma. Risk factors include age, race and family history. People at risk should get eye exams at least every two years including:
- African Americans over age 40
- People over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- People with a family history of glaucoma
There is no cure, but glaucoma can usually be controlled. Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eye drops and surgery.
Source: NIH: National Eye Institute
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