Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's
optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness.
Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the
eyes slowly rises. However, with early treatment, you can
often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
In the front of
the eye is a space called the anterior chamber. A clear
fluid flows continuously in and out of the chamber and
nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber at
the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When the
fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork,
like a drain, and leaves the eye.
Sometimes, when the fluid
reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork
drain. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye
rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the
optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle
glaucoma--and vision loss--may result.
At first, there are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and
there is no pain. However, as the disease progresses, a
person with glaucoma may notice his or her side vision
gradually failing. That is, objects in front may still be
seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed. As
glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the
side and out of the corner of their eye. Without treatment,
people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral
(side) vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel.
Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no
vision remains. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes.
Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty,
conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these.
While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do
not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.