About glaucoma


What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve which carries images from the eye to the brain. If not detected or treated, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Fortunately, with early detection and treatment, serious vision loss can be avoided in most cases.

Glaucoma is commonly associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Normally, fluid circulates in the front part of the eye before draining out through a mesh-like channel. In glaucoma, this channel becomes blocked resulting in a build up of fluid pressure that can damage the optic nerve.


Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases. The most common types of glaucoma are:


Symptoms of glaucoma

Glaucoma typically has few or no symptoms until late in the disease. Initially, peripheral or side vision is lost, however this may go unnoticed. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to loss of central vision and blindness. There is typically no pain or discomfort.

In some forms of glaucoma, eye pressure may rise suddenly causing eye pain, headache, blurred vision, and sometimes halos around lights.


Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, some people have an increased risk of developing glaucoma. The following factors increase the chance of developing glaucoma:

  • A family history of glaucoma
  • Age over 60 years
  • African ancestry
  • Being short sighted
  • Having diabetes
  • Using steroid medication for prolonged periods of time

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Because glaucoma has few early symptoms or warning signs, it is important to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye examination. A glaucoma check will include:

  • A measurement of your eye pressure
  • A test of your side or peripheral vision
  • Examination of the drainage channel of the eye with a special lens
  • Examination of the optic nerve with a special lens, photograph, or imaging device