Glaucoma A Closer Look

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What is 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 opitc 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 ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) 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.

Normal Vision

The same view with advanced vision loss from glaucoma (National Eye Institute)

Who is at risk for Glaucoma?

Your ophthalmologist considers many kinds of information to determine your risk for developing the disease.

The most important risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African or Hispanic ancestry
  • Farsightedness or nearsightedness
  • Past eye injuries
  • Thinner central corneal thickness
  • Systemic health problems, including diabetes, migrane headaches and poor circulation
  • Pre-Existing thinning of optic nerve


Your ophthalmologist will weigh all of these factors before deciding whether you need treatment for glaucoma, or whehther you should be monitored closely as a potential glaucoma patient.  This mean your risk of developing glaucoma is higher than normal, and you need to have regular examinations to detect the early signs of damage to the optic nerve.