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Glaucoma is comprised of a group of eye disorders that progressively damage your eye’s optic nerve. It is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 60 years old.

Your optic nerve, made up of many nerve fibers, is connected to your eye’s retina (the layer of light-sensitive tissue lining the inside of your eye). Signals are sent from your retina to your brain via your optic nerve. When there is a buildup of fluid pressure in your eye caused by glaucoma, the optic nerve is unable to handle the pressure and ends up being damaged.

Without a healthy optic nerve, your brain is unable to receive images from your eye.

Common types of glaucoma include:


  • Open-angle Glaucoma – This is the most common form of glaucoma and occurs when the meshwork of the eye is unable to efficiently drain fluid.
  • Angle-closure Glaucoma – This is a less common form of glaucoma, it is the result of the drainage angle closing or becoming blocked.
  • Secondary Glaucoma – The result of an injury or eye disease. A variety of medical conditions, medications, and eye abnormalities can lead to secondary glaucoma.
  • Normal-tension or Low-tension Glaucoma – Occurs even when the eye pressure remains normal. Research has yet to determine why the optic nerve becomes damaged.


What Are The Risk Factors for Glaucoma

The following factors increase your chance of developing glaucoma:

  • Diabetes1– Doubles your risk of developing glaucoma
  • Myopia2
  • Family medical history
  • Age – Beginning at 40 years old, with a significant increase in risk after the age of 60 years old
  • Corticosteroid use for prolonged periods of time
  • Eye tumors
  • Certain ethnicities

What Causes Glaucoma?

The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown, though here are many theories. Glaucoma is most often associated with elevated eye pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP) causing damage to the optic nerve.

The inside front portion of your eye contains a clear fluid known as aqueous humor. Your eye creates new aqueous humor as it simultaneously allows an equal amount of it to flow out; maintaining a consistently healthy eye pressure level. The discarded aqueous humor flows through a mesh-like channel.

If you have glaucoma, this channel is blocked, causing a buildup of fluid in the eye and increasing the intraocular pressure. Unfortunately, your optic nerve is not designed to handle this kind of pressure and ends up damaged; complete vision loss is the result of this process.

What Are The Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of vision, for good reason. The initial symptoms steal your vision gradually, without any warning. By the time symptoms of glaucoma are noticeable, damage has already occurred.

Symptoms include:

  • Tunnel vision – Resulting of gradual loss of your side (peripheral) vision
  • Central vision loss – Late stages of the disease
  • High eye pressure

How is Glaucoma Treated?

The severity and type of your glaucoma will determine which course of treatment will be advised by our Optometrist. By keeping your eye pressure under control with the appropriate course of treatment, the damage to your optic nerve can be slowed down or stopped completely.

Treatment options include:

  • Trabeculoplasty (Laser Surgery)
  • Drainage valve implants
  • Trabeculectomy (Conventional Eye Surgery)
  • Prescription medications to reduce eye pressure (eye drops, oral medication)

Glaucoma is a condition that requires ongoing treatment for the rest of your life. There is no cure for glaucoma. Early detection and treatment, paired with regular eye exams3,is the best way to control your glaucoma and reduce your chances of complete vision loss.