by: Becca Wolford
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. Generally, the damage is due to increased pressure on the nerve (intraocular pressure). It is the second-most common cause of blindness in the U.S. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, there are over 60,000,000 people worldwide who suffer from glaucoma.
There are 4 types of glaucoma: chronic, acute, congenital, and secondary glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle (chronic) glaucoma.
“The front part of the eye is filled with a clear fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is always being made behind the colored part of the eye (the iris). It leaves the eye through channels in the front of the eye in an area called the anterior chamber angle, or simply the angle.
Anything that slows or blocks the flow of this fluid out of the eye will cause pressure to build up in the eye. This pressure is called intraocular pressure (IOP). In most cases of glaucoma, this pressure is high and causes damage to the optic nerve.
Open-angle (chronic) glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma.
- The cause is unknown. An increase in eye pressure occurs slowly over time. The pressure pushes on the optic nerve. (Genetics and ethnicity may be factors in the incidence of glaucoma.)
- Open-angle glaucoma tends to run in families. Your risk is higher if you have a parent or grandparent with open-angle glaucoma. People of African descent are at particularly high risk for this disease.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
As is often the case, with open-angle (chronic) glaucoma, most people have no symptoms. The damage is already severe when the vision starts to deteriorate. One of the signs that there may be glaucoma is when the person develops tunnel vision or problems with peripheral vision.