Quick Facts about Glaucoma
- Glaucoma occurs because of increased pressure in the eye caused by a buildup of excess fluid.
- The disease first causes a loss of peripheral (side) vision and, over time, can also damage your central vision.
- Glaucoma can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve if undetected and left untreated.
- Early treatment for glaucoma can slow the progression of the disease.
Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be regained. If left untreated, glaucoma will lead to blindness. Although there is no cure, medications and surgery can help slow the disease's progression.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibers that carries information from the eye to the brain) and can lead to vision loss and possibly blindness.
Vision experts believe that half of those affected by glaucoma may not know it, because it usually has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages. By the time people notice that something is wrong with their vision, the disease has already caused considerable damage.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, affecting 80 million people. Given the aging of the world's population, this number may increase to more than 111 million by 2040. More than three million Americans are living with glaucoma, 2.7 million of whom—aged 40 and older—are affected by its most common type, open-angle glaucoma. In the United States, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Hispanics.
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.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main forms of glaucoma: open-angle (the most common form, affecting approximately 70-90% of individuals); and angle-closure. There are also several other less common forms of this eye disease, including normal-tension, childhood, and secondary glaucoma.
National Glaucoma Research (NGR) Program
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 nearly $35 million to support basic research into the causes and potential treatments of this disease.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases, not just one disease. Glaucoma can exist in many forms and can be the result of a number of different factors. The following articles link to discussions about the causes of various forms of glaucoma.
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