Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. It is a disease in which the optic nerve becomes progressively damaged over time, leading to loss of vision. Glaucoma is usually, but not always, associated with an elevated eye pressure. Many Americans over the age of 40 are unaware they have this disease because there are no symptoms in the early stages. Open angle glaucoma, the most common type, occurs without visible obstruction of the eye’s internal drainage system, also called the angle. Closed angle glaucoma, which is less frequent, is due to narrowing of the angle and decreased flow of fluid through the narrowed angle.
The only way glaucoma can be detected is through a comprehensive eye exam. During your exam, the doctor will check the pressure in your eye and examine your optic nerve for damage from glaucoma. If the doctor suspects glaucoma, special tests may be ordered.
Once diagnosed with glaucoma, a course of treatment will be determined by the doctor. This treatment may include eye drops and laser surgery. This treatment is usually continued for life.