What is Glaucoma?


“Glaucoma” describes a disease that damages the optic nerve and leads to a progressive and irreversable vision loss.  Glaucoma causes the pressure within the eye (the intraocular pressure) to be at unhealthy levels for the affected person.  Because many different types of glaucoma exist, treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma as well as other factors.

No matter whether the pressure is high, normal or below normal, it can still cause damage. Most types of glaucoma are chronic and are present for the person’s lifetime. Some types of glaucoma occur suddenly but most develop slowly, usually over months or years.

Since the level of intraocular pressure does not indicate with certainty whether or not glaucoma is present, how can an accurate diagnosis be made? The answer is: “A diagnosis of glaucoma is made by detecting the presence of ocular tissue damage related to intraocular pressure.”

Most types of glaucoma need some form of treatment. Some people need surgery. Others may need medicine to treat the eye directly or to treat some other health problem that is affecting the eye. Others may need to stop taking certain medications.

Appropriate treatment for glaucoma will prevent loss of sight in the majority of patients whose condition is detected early.


Photo by Roger Barone