Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the cable made up of many nerve fibers which transmit visual information from the eye to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can lead to blind spots. These blind spots often start in the peripheral visual field and therefore can go undetected early in the course of the disease. If the optic nerve continues to be damaged, the central visual field can become involved and this can lead to blindness.
There are different types of glaucoma but most cases are associated with increased eye pressure. Other risk factors for glaucoma include age, race, and family history. To diagnose glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will perform a complete exam including asking about potential risk factors and examining your optic nerve and eye pressures. Additional tests such as visual fields and optic nerve scans are also performed.
If a diagnosis of glaucoma is made, your ophthalmologist may recommend a number of treatment options, including eye drops, laser treatment, and surgery. The goal of treatment is to control eye pressures in order to slow down or stop the damage from glaucoma. While there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment can prevent its progression and help preserve vision.