Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that are caused by the build up of pressure within the eye due to fluid backup. Over time, this backed up fluid can damage the optic nerve resulting in vision loss and blindness.
It is know as the “silent vision killer” because at first, open-angle glaucoma (the most common form) has no symptoms, causes no pain and vision remains unaffected.
Early detection is the key to prevent serious vision loss.
Facts about Glaucoma
Glaucoma is often a very misunderstood disease, so let’s look at a few facts.
• Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and the second most common cause of vision loss in seniors in Canada, and the second leading cause of world-wide blindness according to the World Health Organization.
• Glaucoma occurs most often in people over the age of 40, but children and infants may also get it.
• “People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans over the age of 40, and Hispanics over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.” (American Optometric Association) Other risk factors include presence or family history of myopia and diabetes.
• Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
• There is currently no cure for glaucoma and once vision is lost it cannot be restored.
• “It is estimated that over 4 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know they have it” (Glaucoma Research Foundation).
• It is estimated that approximately 70 million people have glaucoma world-wide.
Types, Symptoms and Treatments of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma including:
Open-angle glaucoma accounts for 90 per cent of all cases in Canada (with similar numbers in the U.S.);
Primary acute closed-angle glaucoma occurs very suddenly and is treated on an emergency basis, and “results from a buildup of fluid in the eye because the distance between the iris and the drainage system has been closed, stopping fluid from draining from the eye” (CNIB);