Glaucoma – what is it and who is at risk?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the pressure inside the eye may or may not be elevated.  if untreated, vision loss or blindness may occur.

At the front of the eye, there is a small space called the anterior chamber.  Clear fluid flows in and out of the chamber to nourish nearby tissues.  In glaucoma, fluid drains too slowly out of the eye.  As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises.  Unless this pressure is controlled, it may cause damage to the optic nerve, other parts of the eye and/or loss of vision.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.  Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher risk:

  • Anyone over the age of 60
  • African-Americans over the age of 40
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Early detection and treatment of glaucoma is the best way to control the disease.  So if you fall into one of the high risk groups, make certain that you have your eyes examined through dilated pupils at least every two years by an eye care professional.