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About Glaucoma

National Glaucoma Research (NGR), a program of the BrightFocus Foundation funds research on and educates the public about glaucoma. Since the program's inception, NGR has awarded more than $24.2 million to support basic research into the causes and potential treatments of this disease.

Glaucoma is  a group of eye diseases that leads to damage of the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibers that carries information from the eye to the brain), which can then lead to vision loss and possibly blindness. Optic nerve damage usually occurs in the presence of high eye (intraocular) pressure; however, it can occur with normal or even less than normal eye pressure. Globally, 60.5 million had glaucoma in 2010. Given the aging of the world's population, this number may increase to almost 80 million by 2020.

More than three million Americans are living with glaucoma, 2.7 million of whom—aged 40 and older—are affected by its most common form, open-angle glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S. Open-angle glaucoma is three to four times more common in African Americans than in non-Hispanic Whites. Between the ages of 45 and 64, glaucoma is fifteen times more likely to cause blindness in African Americans than in Caucasians.

Vision experts believe that half of those affected by glaucoma may not know it, since there are usually no symptoms in its early stages. By the time an individual notices something is wrong, the disease has already caused considerable damage. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be regained. Although there is no cure, medications and surgery can help slow the disease's progression.

In this section you will learn more about the risk factors for glaucoma, its various forms and symptoms, as well as how doctors diagnose the disease.

Understanding Glaucoma
For comprehensive information about glaucoma, current statistics, symptoms and stages, as well as easily understood medical illustrations on how the disease impacts vision…
Symptoms
Most types of glaucoma have no symptoms until there is irreversible vision loss. Learn more about the importance of eye exams…
Risk Factors & Prevention
Scientists are unsure of the cause of glaucoma, but some factors appear to increase the risk of developing the disease. Learn more about these risk factors and ways to try lowering the odds…
Screening & Diagnosis
Doctors use a variety of tests to diagnose glaucoma. Find out what may be done during an eye exam…

Last Review: 08/30/13

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