Glaucoma is sometimes called the Silent Thief of Sight. It is an eye condition in which the nerves of the retina are damaged. This damage is partially caused by increased pressure inside the eye due to inadequate drainage of the fluid normally produced inside the eye. Over time, this increased pressure damages the delicate retinal nerve fibers and this causes a loss of vision.

Peripheral (side) vision is usually lost first and many times is undetected until much vision has already been destroyed. Glaucoma most frequently occurs in people over the age of 40, and there is a greater risk if there is a family history of the disease. It occurs more frequently in African Americans and those that are very near-sighted. If diagnosed at an early stage, glaucoma can be controlled with pressure lowering eye drops. If left untreated, permanent peripheral vision loss and eventual blindness may occur. For those over 35, regular eye health examinations are very important for early detection and prevention.

Visual field tests, optic nerve evaluation and eye pressure measurement are usually performed during a regular eye examination and are the best preventive measure for glaucoma. Some eye exams also include a scan of the retina surrounding the optic nerve to look for abnormal thinning caused by glaucoma.


Author: Dr. George Hertneky

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