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Glaucoma


Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve – the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable containing numerous wires. When damage to the optic nerve fibers occurs, blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.

Early detection and treatment by your eye doctor are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. But loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. There are usually no symptoms at first, but as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her vision gradually failing with blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, difficulty focusing on objects, and/or presence of halos around lights

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Those who are at higher risk and should have an eye exam at least every one to two years include African Americans over age 40, individuals over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, individuals that have experienced a serious eye injury, people with other health conditions, such as diabetes (exam every year). Although glaucoma cannot be cured, early detection and treatment can usually preserve vision. An eye doctor can help control glaucoma by lowering intraocular pressure with eye drops, laser treatments or surgery. However, vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored and, if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.

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