Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the
United States, especially among the elderly. Loss of sight from glaucoma is
preventable if treatment is obtained early enough. Our understanding of
glaucoma has advanced significantly in the past 30 years. Glaucoma is a disease
of the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The optic nerve
carries the images we see to the brain where they are recognized and
understood. The optic nerve is like an electric cable containing a huge number
of wires. If some of these "wires" are damaged, some information is
lost, resulting in "blind spots" in vision. Often, people do not
notice these blind spots until much optic nerve damage has occurred. If all the
wires are damaged, all vision is lost and blindness results.
Millions of Americans have glaucoma and almost 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Ninety percent (90,000) of those 100,000 have "open-angle glaucoma," a condition with a pattern of vision loss associated with an increase of pressure in the eye. There are no early warning signs for this dangerous disease that is sometimes called the "sneak thief of sight."
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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12