What is Glaucoma?

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually damages the optic nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States.

In most types of glaucoma the drainage system becomes clogged so the aqueous humor cannot drain. When this happens, pressure (intraocular pressure) builds up inside the eye. High pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve, which then leads to vision loss.

The optic disc is where the optic nerve connects to the eye. As pressure increases, nerve fibers in the optic nerve begin to die. When this happens, the disc begins to hollow out and become cupped.

Early detection and treatment often help to prevent serious vision loss.

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

Anyone is at risk, but there are factors that increase the risk for glaucoma:

  • Age (especially those over 60 years of age)
  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Long-term use of steroids
  • Thin corneas
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • Family history of glaucoma

The best way to avoid the negative consequences of this disease is to undergo regular glaucoma examinations. Our practice has locations throughout the state, from Flagstaff to Tucson, where you can talk to an experienced optometrist or ophthalmologist and learn more about glaucoma treatment options.


 

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