Glaucoma is a complicated disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. It is the second leading cause of blindness.
The most common form of the disease occurs when the ocular drainage canals become clogged over time. The inner eye pressure (also called intraocular pressure, or IOP) rises when the correct amount of fluid cannot drain out of the eye. With the most common form of glaucoma, the entrances to the drainage canals are clear, and should be working correctly. However, the clogging problem occurs farther inside the drainage canals. This is like a clogged pipe below the drain of a sink.
Most people will not experience symptoms, nor will they have any early warning signs. Open-angle glaucoma can cause a gradual loss of vision if it is not diagnosed and treated. The disease develops slowly and sometimes without visible vision loss for many years. It usually responds well to medication, especially if caught early and treated.
While anyone at any age can develop glaucoma, these conditions pose a higher risk:
A family history of glaucoma
Individuals over 40 years of age
Individuals of African or Mediterranean descent
People who’ve experienced an eye injury or trauma
People of all ages are at risk for developing glaucoma, and only an eye doctor can make a diagnosis. Routine eye examinations are important to detect and identify symptoms.