Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, resulting in the loss of peripheral vision. Elevated intraocular pressure is a known cause of optic nerve damage and can be controlled by medication, laser therapy, and sometimes filtration surgery.
Glaucoma can occur in any age group, but it is more frequently encountered in those who are over 65 years of age, those with a family history of glaucoma, and those of African-American descent. Certain medications such as corticosteroids and chronic diseases such as diabetes can predispose a person to the elevated eye pressure that leads to glaucoma. In the last few years, several important studies, such as the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study and the Early Treatment of Glaucoma Study, have resulted in breakthroughs in glaucoma treatment. Visual fields and optic nerve analysis play important roles in the diagnosis and management of the disease. New medications and laser treatments allow us to confront the disease more effectively than was possible in the past. Indeed, if glaucoma is detected and treated in its earliest stages, vision loss can be prevented entirely.