Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. However, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers. It connects the retina to the brain. (See diagram above.) The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision. At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. They seem to be looking through a tunnel.
Over time, straight-ahead (central) vision may decrease until no vision remains. Glaucoma is detected through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Immediate treatment for early-stage, open-angle glaucoma can delay progression of the disease. That’s why early diagnosis is very important. Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma. If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly. You can protect yourself against vision loss by working in partnership with your eye care professional. Ask questions and get the information you need to take care of yourself and your family.
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