What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, the main nerve that sends visual signals from your eye to your brain. Like many diseases, the symptoms of glaucoma can be subtle at first, such as a slight loss in peripheral vision (side vision). However, if left untreated, glaucoma can cause progressive damage to the optic nerve, and may lead to significant vision loss over time.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Your eyes are constantly producing fluid. This fluid provides nourishment to the eye and is essential for normal, healthy eye function. As fluid is produced, it moves throughout your eye and eventually exits through tiny drainage channels located near the cornea (the front part of your eye). However, if these drainage channels become blocked, the excess fluid in your eye can build up, causing elevated pressure levels (also called intraocular pressure or "IOP"). This increase in intraocular pressure can damage your optic nerve, which has delicate fibers and is especially sensitive to high pressure.
In a healthy eye, fluid moves throughout the eye and exits through tiny drainage channels
If these drainage channels become blocked, fluid buildup may increase pressure levels within the eye, which can damage the optic nerve
How is Glaucoma Currently Treated?
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to return intraocular pressure to normal levels and therefore prevent further nerve damage and vision loss. Common treatments for glaucoma include prescription eye drops, laser therapy, and/or surgery. Your eye doctor can review with you the potential benefits and side effects of each type of treatment, depending on the stage of your specific glaucoma.