Has a recent trip to the eye doctor left you wondering “what is glaucoma?” Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s optic nerve is damaged. It happens when there is a build up of fluid in the front of the eye. This fluid, called aqueous humor, usually moves through the eye, but if circulation becomes blocked, the fluid builds up. This increases pressure on the eye, called intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is what sends images to the brain, so over time this damage can lead to vision loss.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60, but more than half are undiagnosed. Glaucoma develops slowly over time, so vision loss is very gradual. Glaucoma usually appears in adults over 40, and if caught in time blindness can be prevented.
When testing for Glaucoma, an eye doctor examines the eyes through dilated pupils, focusing on the appearance of the optic nerve. A procedure called tonometry will also be administered to check eye pressure. Glaucoma tends to be inherited, so if you have a family history of Glaucoma, have your eyes tested early and often.