Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. It is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss. Therefore it is very important that it be diagnosed.
Impaired vision with glaucoma
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
Who is most likely to get it?
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Although anyone can get glaucoma, the following people are at higher risk:
- African Americans over age 40
- Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
What is the optic nerve?
The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers. It connects the retina to the brain. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision.
How does open-angle glaucoma damage the optic nerve?
In the front of the eye is a space called the anterior chamber. A clear fluid flows continuously in and out of the chamber and nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber at the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork, like a drain, and leaves the eye.
Sometimes, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork drain. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle glaucoma—and vision loss—may result. That's why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.