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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Glaucoma

Introduction

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Increasing age and a family history of the disease are two major risk factors. Early diagnosis is critical. Treatments include laser, surgery and medication (including drops). Glaucoma is sometimes called the silent thief because it can slowly steal your sight before you realize anything's wrong. It's a leading cause of vision loss.

Glaucoma is not just one disease, but a group of them. The common feature of these diseases is damage to the optic nerve, usually accompanied by an abnormally high pressure inside your eyeball.

The optic nerve is a bundle of more than a million nerve fibers at the back of your eye. It carries the images from the inside back wall of your eyeball (retina) to your brain. Blind spots develop in your visual field when the optic nerve deteriorates, usually starting with your peripheral (side) vision. If left untreated, glaucoma may lead to blindness in both eyes.

When you have glaucoma you will require regular monitoring and treatment for the rest of your life.