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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Glaucoma FAQs


April 21, 2005

Glaucoma
8779
Basics
Glaucoma FAQs
Glaucoma FAQs
htmPBAglaucomaFAQ
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about glaucoma, from Prevent Blindness America.
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2005-04-21
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Prevent Blindness America
2007-04-13

Prevent Blindness America

Frequently Asked Questions about
Glaucoma

Q: What is glaucoma?

A: Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of your eye called the optic nerve. There are several different types of glaucoma including primary open angle, angle-closure, secondary, congenital, juvenile, and low tension. The most common type of glaucoma is open angle glaucoma. Increased pressure inside the eye may play a role in glaucoma.

Q: How common is glaucoma?

A: More than 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older have open angle glaucoma. At least one half of all people with glaucoma don’t know they have it.

Q: How many people are blind due to glaucoma?

A: Between 89,000 and 120,000 people are blind from glaucoma. It is a leading cause of blindness, accounting for between nine and 12 percent of all cases of blindness. The rate of blindness from glaucoma is between 93 to 126 per 100,000 people over age 40.

Q: Am I at risk for glaucoma?

A: You are at risk for glaucoma if you:
  • are 55 or older,
  • are black (if so, you are also more likely to get glaucoma at a younger age),
  • are Hispanic,
  • are very nearsighted (distant objects are very blurry),
  • have a family history of glaucoma or a close relative with glaucoma,
  • have a history of high pressure in your eyes,
  • have had an eye injury or eye surgery,
  • have taken steroids for long periods of time, and/or
  • have diabetes or high blood pressure
Even people who do not have these risk factors can get glaucoma.

Q: What signs and symptoms of glaucoma should I watch for?

A: Glaucoma in its early stages is very hard to detect. People usually don’t notice that they have glaucoma unless they have a great deal of damage to their optical nerve. In the later stages of the disease, the symptoms that can occur are:
  • loss of side vision,
  • an inability to adjust the eye to darkened rooms,
  • difficulty focusing on close work,
  • rainbow colored rings or halos around lights, and/or
  • a frequent need to change eyeglass prescriptions.

Q: What is my best defense against glaucoma?

A: Visit your eye doctor regularly for a dilated eye exam. Only a complete eye examination through dilated pupils along with other specialized testing can diagnose the disease.

Q: What treatments are available for glaucoma?

A: There is no cure for glaucoma. Any sight that has been destroyed by glaucoma cannot be restored. An eye doctor will treat most people with eye drops to lower eye pressure. If eye drops don’t work, your doctor may recommend laser or glaucoma surgery.

Copyright © 2004 Prevent Blindness America ®
Current as of April 21, 2005

 

 

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