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50% of people with glaucoma don't know they have the disease. There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma, but if it's caught early, you can preserve your vision and prevent vision loss.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a general term for a number of eye conditions that progressively damage the optic nerve, consequently causing vision loss.

There is currently no cure for Glaucoma. However, if it is caught early on, it is possible to prevent future eyesight loss.

What are the early warning signs of Glaucoma?

Typically, Glaucoma has no symptoms early on. However, you can be tested for it even without symptoms. Your doctor will test for:

  • Tonometry (Measure of the pressure inside of the eye)

  • Ophthalmoscopy (Shape and color of optic nerve)

  • Perimetry (Measure of your field of vision)

  • Gonioscopy (Examination of where the iris meets the cornea)

  • Pachymetry (Measure of the thickness of cornea)

What causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve. As this nerve gradually deteriorates, blind spots develop in your visual field. For reasons that doctors don't fully understand, this nerve damage is usually related to increased pressure in the eye.

Glaucoma tends to run in families. In some people, scientists have identified genes related to high eye pressure and optic nerve damage.

What happens when a person has Glaucoma?

If not treated, Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness

Glaucoma Treatments

Doctors use different types of treatment for glaucoma, including medicines (usually eye drops), laser treatment, and surgery.

If you have glaucoma, it’s important to start treatment right away. Treatment won’t undo any damage to your vision, but it can stop it from getting worse. Treatments include:

  • Medication

  • Laser procedures

  • Surgery

Glaucoma Quick Facts

  • Glaucoma is a general term for a number of eye conditions that progressively damage the optic nerve

  • Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness

  • Glaucoma typically has no symptoms, but can be discovered through regular eye exams

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Because chronic forms of glaucoma can destroy vision before any signs or symptoms are apparent, be aware of these risk factors:

  • Having high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure)

  • Being over age 60

  • Being black, Asian or Hispanic

  • Having a family history of glaucoma

  • Having certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sickle cell anemia

  • Having corneas that are thin in the center

  • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted

  • Having had an eye injury or certain types of eye surgery

  • Taking corticosteroid medications, especially eyedrops, for a long time

Glaucoma Resources:

Testing for Glaucoma (Glaucoma Research Foundation)

Learn About Eye Health: Glaucoma (National Eye Institute)

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