Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve as it carries visual information from the eye to the brain. This damage is often associated with elevated pressure within the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP).  Glaucoma can also occur at normal or even lower-than-normal eye pressures.

The two main categories are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma:

  1. “Open-Angle Glaucoma” is the most common type of glaucoma. It develops gradually and painlessly, typically with no early symptoms. A gradual increase in intraocular pressure leads to damage of the optic nerve over time.

  2. Angle-Closure Glaucoma is more acute. It occurs when the drainage angle between the cornea and the iris becomes blocked, causing a sudden increase in intraocular pressure. Symptoms can include severe eye pain, headache, blurred vision, halos around lights, and nausea. This condition requires immediate medical attention.

Some common risk factors for glaucoma:

  • Age (older individuals are more susceptible)

  • Family history of glaucoma

  • Certain medical conditions (like diabetes and hypertension)

  • Previous eye injuries

  • Certain ethnic backgrounds (African, Hispanic, and Asian populations are at higher risk).

Glaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight” because it usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. Regular eye exams are crucial for early detection and treatment.

Treatment options for glaucoma include eye drops to lower intraocular pressure, oral medications, laser therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Early diagnosis and proper management are vital in preserving vision and preventing further damage to the optic nerve. Annual eye exams are the best defense against glaucoma, particularly as you get older.