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What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is the part of the eye that carries the images we see from the eye to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers (like an electric cable containing numerous wires). Glaucoma damages nerve fibers, which can cause blind spots in our vision and vision loss to develop overtime. This loss of vision usually goes undetected until the damage to the optic is significant.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, especially for older people, but loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. It is very important to have periodic eye exams with an opthalmologist to determine if a patient can develop the disease, since the vision lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered.

Glaucoma is caused when the intraocular pressure increases, pushing against the optic nerve and causing damage to the nerve fibers. There is a clear liquid inside of the eye called aqueous humor that is being produced constantly while an equal amount flows out of the eye through a microscopic drainage system.

Because the eye is a closed structure, if the drainage area is blocked, the excess fluid cannot flow out of the eye, causing a build up in pressure.