What is Glaucoma?

Doctor looks into a patients eye using a tool

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning (“sneak thief of sight”). In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. Studies suggest that half of the people affected by glaucoma in the United States may not know they have it.

It is important to have a regular eye exam as glaucoma does not have any symptoms in its early to mid-stages. Once visual loss occurs, it is permanent.

Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by a number of different eye diseases which in most cases produce increased pressure within the eye. This elevated pressure is caused by a backup of fluid in the eye. Over time, it causes damage to different parts of the eye particularly the optic nerve.

No matter whether the eye pressure is high, normal or below normal, it can still cause damage. Most types of glaucoma are chronic, and are present for the person’s lifetime. Some types of glaucoma occur suddenly (such as angle closure glaucoma), but most develop slowly, over months or years.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Since the level of intraocular pressure may not indicate with certainty whether or not one has glaucoma, the diagnosis is made by detecting the presence of characteristic ocular tissue damage related to intraocular pressure with visual field testing, optical coherent tomography (OCT) analysis of the optic nerves, fundus photography, and careful examination. Florida Eye Specialists offers the latest technology available for the diagnosis and monitoring of glaucoma.