Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. Glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, and vision loss progresses at such a gradual rate that people affected by the condition are often unaware of it until their sight has already been compromised.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage is caused by increased pressure from fluid that builds up inside the eye. The amount of pressure that can cause damage varies from person to person. Glaucoma affects peripheral (or side) vision, narrowing the field of vision. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause total vision loss. Glaucoma can affect one or both eyes. The most common form is primary open-angle glaucoma.
The best defense against developing glaucoma-related blindness is by having routine, comprehensive eye exams. If detected early, before noticeable vision loss occurs, glaucoma can usually be controlled and severe vision loss can often be prevented. Vision that is lost from glaucoma cannot be restored.
Anyone can get glaucoma, but those at higher risk include:
African Americans age 40 and over
Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
People with a family history of the disease