Glaucoma is a group of conditions that have in common progressive damage to the optic nerve. This nerve relays what we see or the image on the retina in the back of the eye to the visual center of the brain. Usually glaucoma is associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, while the level of pressure that causes harm and the rate of nerve damage vary from person to person. In the vast majority of cases, there is no sense of pressure or pain, and loss of the nerve and sight occurs silently.
Fortunately, an eye exam can detect if a person is more likely to develop glaucoma or if they actually have the disease. Glaucoma can affect anyone, but the risk is greater in African-Americans and increases in all of us with age. It is also commonly found after serious eye injuries, sometimes showing up much later.
Treatment begins with daily eye drops, which are sufficient for most patients. Laser procedures or surgery are occasionally needed for more aggressive or advanced forms of the disease. These can be provided in most all
cases in a comfortable manner.