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What Is Glaucoma?

Open Angle Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects millions of people. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to blindness. Open-Angle Glaucoma is a condition in which fluid pressure inside the eye is abnormally high. This pressure, called the intraocular pressure, increases the risk of damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a part of the eye necessary for good vision.


What Causes Glaucoma?

As mentioned earlier, glaucoma is caused by a buildup of fluid within the eye, which increases intraocular pressure. The front part of the eye is filled with a watery fluid called aqueous humor that continuously circulates. This fluid brings nourishment to important structures within the eye. Normally, this fluid leaves the eye through a drainage system called the trabecular meshwork. This is located in the angle where the cornea and the iris meet. In glaucoma, the “drain” becomes partially “clogged,” causing the fluid to back up. The eye is a closed compartment, which causes the pressure to begin to increase. After a while this pressure causes compression or squeezing of the optic nerve which can lead to optic nerve damage and even nerve death. When nerve cells die, permanent visual loss results.

There are several different types of glaucoma. However, about 7 of 10 people have the most common form: Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma.

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Glaucoma is diagnosed through a routine eye examination. Typically the exam will include:

  • Checking the pressure in your eyes with a simple and painless device called a tonometer
  • Examining your optic nerve by looking into the back of your eyes after dilating your pupils.
  • Measuring your current field of vision to see if you have lost any sight, particularly in your peripheral vision.