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Glaucoma - What is Glaucoma?



Glaucoma Defined

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. While glaucoma can strike anyone, the risk is much greater for people over 60.

There are several different types of glaucoma. Most of these involve the drainage system within the eye. At the front of the eye there is a small space called the anterior chamber. A clear fluid flows through this chamber and bathes and nourishes the nearby tissues.

In glaucoma, for still unknown reasons, the fluid drains too slowly out of the eye. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises. Unless this pressure is controlled, it may cause damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye and result in loss of vision.

The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma. In the normal eye, the clear fluid leaves the anterior chamber at the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork, like a drain, and leaves the eye.

Sometimes, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork drain, causing the pressure inside the eye to build. If the pressure damages the optic nerve, open-angle glaucoma -- and vision loss -- may result.

There is no cure for glaucoma. Vision lost from the disease cannot be restored. However, there are treatments that may save remaining vision. That is why early diagnosis is important.



Glaucoma - Causes and Risk Factors

Nearly 2.2 million people have glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher risk. They include
African-Americans over age 40
everyone over age 60, especially Mexican-Americans
people with a family history of glaucoma.

Studies show that glaucoma is
five times more likely to occur in African-Americans than in whites
about four times more likely to cause blindness in African-Americans than in whites
fifteen times more likely to cause blindness in African Americans between the ages of 45-64 than in whites of the same age group.

The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

Copyright Information: Public domain information with acknowledgement given to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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