Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss. It usually happens when pressure from extra fluid within your eyeball damages the nerve in your eye (optic nerve).
Vision loss usually happens slowly, so you may not notice it right away
Glaucoma gets worse over time
It can cause lasting vision loss and blindness if not treated
Special eye drops (prescribed by your doctor) can lower the pressure in your eye
Get a full eye exam every 1 to 2 years to detect glaucoma early and help prevent vision loss
If you have glaucoma, the doctor will need to check the pressure in your eyes often
Your eye is full of fluid. The fluid helps it keep the proper shape. Fluid is always being made and then draining out. When functioning properly, the system works like a faucet and a drain in a sink. Balance between fluid production and drainage—between an open faucet and a properly draining sink—keeps the fluid flowing freely and prevents pressure in the eye from building up.
Glaucoma happens if fluid builds up in your eye, which increases the pressure within your eye.
Fluid builds up because something blocks the normal fluid drainage path. What blocks the fluid drainage path?
You can get glaucoma at any age, but it is much more common as you get older.
People at highest risk for glaucoma may have:
Symptoms usually happen slowly over months or years:
Vision loss occurs so slowly that you may not notice until much of your sight is lost.
Sometimes symptoms happen suddenly. A sudden attack of glaucoma can be a medical emergency. You may have:
Your doctor will give you medicines (usually eye drops) to lower the pressure in your eye. Sometimes your doctor will recommend surgery.
You can't get back vision that you've lost, but you can prevent further vision loss if you control the pressure in your eyes. You will need to treat your glaucoma every day for the rest of your life, usually even if you've had surgery.
The pressure in your eyes will need to be checked often by an eye doctor to make sure it stays at a good level. If not, your doctor may need to switch the kind of medicine you use.