Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that if left untreated can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. Damage to the optic nerve due to glaucoma is usually caused by an elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Clear fluid, called aqueous humor, circulates through the eye to provide nourishment to the tissue and applies pressure to help maintain the shape of the eye.
Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent, but can be prevented with early detection and treatment. Glaucoma management is usually a lifelong process that requires frequent monitoring and constant treatment. Since there is no way to determine if glaucoma is under control based on how a person feels, doctor visits should be on a regular basis.
Treatment concentrates on lowering the pressure inside the eye to prevent optic nerve damage. Eye drops are most commonly used to control glaucoma, however, they can be very expensive, have unwanted side effects, and may need to be taken for the rest of your life. If non-surgical methods fail to decrease pressure, surgery may be required.