Human eyesight is an incredibly complex system, and a problem like glaucoma anywhere along the way can lead to seriously compromised vision.
One such problem is glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that affect millions of people in the US, making it the second most common cause of vision loss and blindness in the country. In most cases, glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve from increased pressure in the eye.
Intraocular Pressure: A Delicate Balance
The human eye is filled with fluid — aqueous humor in the front chambers, vitreous humor in the larger rear chamber behind the lens. In a healthy eye, the pressure of this fluid remains within a safe range because the amount of aqueous humor being produced is roughly equal to the amount flowing out through the pupil. In an eye with glaucoma, this drainage system does not work the way it should.
Common Risk Factors
While everyone has some risk of developing glaucoma, certain factors can make it more likely. Glaucoma is far more common in people over 60, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. People of Asian descent are at greater risk of angle-closure glaucoma.
A major risk factor for glaucoma is heredity. Someone with a sibling who has glaucoma is ten times more likely to develop it than someone who doesn’t. Other risk factors include eye injury and steroid use.
Why Early Diagnosis Matters
Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible and there is currently no cure for the disease, but medication and/or surgery can halt its progress as long as it is diagnosed in time. The key to early diagnosis is regular eye exams, especially for those with a high risk of developing the condition. Make sure you’re familiar with your family’s eye health history, and don’t forget to keep us in the loop!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.