Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve connection between the eye and the brain. The optic nerve is a bundle of millions of smaller nerve fibers wrapped together. These individual nerve fibers can be damaged if the fluid circulating within the eye fails to drain properly, causing pressure in the eye, which results in damage to the optic nerve.
When nerve fibers die, small blind spots begin to develop in a person’s field of vision. At first, the effect can be so subtle that most people will not notice it until the disease is already well advanced. If left untreated, glaucoma eventually causes blindness. For this reason, regular eye exams with modern diagnostic equipment are critical for glaucoma treatment, particularly for those at higher risk of the disease.
Studies have shown that certain groups, such as African Americans, have a higher incidence of glaucoma and experience it at a younger age than other racial groups. Others considered at risk are people with diabetes, anyone who has had a serious eye injury, people who have close relatives with glaucoma and older people in general.