What is it?
Glaucoma refers to a group of disorders that all cause increased pressure
within the eyeball. In a normal eye, a liquid called the aqueous humor
is continuously produced and drained. In glaucoma, aqueous humor builds
up and increases pressure within the eye. Such increased pressure can
damage the optic nerve directly or restrict blood flow, thus damaging
the optic nerve indirectly. This damage may lead to blind spots in the
visual field. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent blindness.
Glaucoma may cause:
Loss of peripheral vision
Sensitivity to light and
Problems with night vision
Age: as people get older,
the risk of glaucoma increases.
Family History: if a parent
has glaucoma, his or her children have a 20% chance of having glaucoma.
If a sibling has glaucoma, brothers and sisters have a 50% chance of
Diabetes: people with diabetes
have a 3 times higher risk of having glaucoma than people without diabetes.
Eye Injuries: injuries to
the eye increase the risk of having glaucoma.
Corticosteroid Use: people
who use corticosteroid drugs have a higher risk of having glaucoma.
pressure is measured. Abnormally high eyeball pressure may suggest glaucoma.
Optic Nerve Examination:
an eye doctor will examine the retina and check for damage.
Visual Field Examination:
a patient's visual field (area in front) will be mapped to check for
There is no cure for glaucoma
and if the optic nerve is damaged, it cannot be fixed. The effects and
progression of glaucoma can be controlled, however, by lowering the
pressure within the eye.
Drugs that reduce the production
of aqueous humor: beta-blockers, alpha-adrenergic agents, carbonic anhydrase
Drugs that increase the outflow
of aqueous humor: prostaglandins, prostamides.
Surgery to improve the outflow
of aqueous humor.
Implantation of a device
to drain fluid in the eye.