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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Glaucoma

Watch Out for Glaucoma

A tonometer is used to check eye pressure for signs of glaucoma.
Photo courtesy of NEI

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye's optic nerve, which carries visual signals to the brain. The most common form—primary open-angle glaucoma—often has no symptoms in its early stages. Untreated, it can lead to vision loss or blindness. By the time many people are diagnosed, they've already begun to lose some of their side, or peripheral, vision.

Some types of glaucoma result from infections, injuries, or medications that increase pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve. Increased eye pressure is a risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma, but doesn't necessarily cause it.

Anyone can get glaucoma, but people at higher risk include African Americans age 40 and older, everyone over 60, especially Hispanic Americans, and those with a family history of the disease.

"Studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don't know they have this potentially blinding eye disease," says National Eye Institute (NEI) Director Dr. Paul A. Sieving. "The good news is that glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye exam."

In a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional uses eye drops to dilate (widen) the pupil to examine the optic nerve for signs of disease. Detected early, glaucoma can be controlled through medications or surgery.

Find Out More

Read More "Glaucoma" Articles

Watch Out for Glaucoma / Symptoms, Treatment and Research / Eye-to-Eye with Dr. Rachel Bishop

Spring 2015 Issue: Volume 10 Number 1 Page 14