Video: All about glaucoma

Large group of people seen from above gathered together in the shape of an eye.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the nerve at the back of your eye. This nerve is called the optic nerve, and it connects the eyes to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can result in painless vision loss and blindness.

There are several different types of glaucoma, including congenital, low pressure and angle-closure glaucoma. However, when people talk about glaucoma, they’re usually referring to the most common type: primary open angle glaucoma.

In open angle glaucoma, there is a blockage in the eye’s drainage systems. Because of this, fluid within the eye, called aqueous humor, isn’t drained as quickly as it’s being produced. 

The imbalance causes pressure within the eye — known as intraocular pressure — to rise. If intraocular pressure is not stabilized, it can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

Early signs of glaucoma are subtle, which makes it hard to detect without a comprehensive eye exam.

Treatment for glaucoma may include:

  • Prescription eye drops that you will need to use daily for the rest of your life.

  • Laser treatment to help improve your eyes’ ability to drain aqueous fluid.

  • Surgery to help regulate your eye pressure. The type of surgery you’ll need depends on the type of glaucoma you have and how severe it is.

Glaucoma treatment can help slow the progression of vision loss. But it cannot restore the vision that has been lost. This is why regular eye exams are so important. 

Comprehensive eye exams that include glaucoma testing should be done every one to two years, starting at age 35. This allows your eye doctor to assess your glaucoma risk and advise you on how often testing is needed moving forward.

To learn more about glaucoma, including its different types and treatments, visit AllAboutVision.com.

Glaucoma. National Eye Institute. April 2022.

Open angle glaucoma. StatPearls. July 2022.

Glaucoma. Cleveland Clinic. November 2020.

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