Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve is connected to the retina and is made up of many nerve fibers; the optic nerve is responsible for sending signals from your retina to your brain, where these signals are interpreted as the images you see.
In a healthy eye, a clear fluid called aqueous humor circulates the front portion of your eye. To maintain a constant healthy eye pressure, your eye continually produces a small amount of aqueous humor while an equal amount of this fluid flows out of your eye. If you have glaucoma, the aqueous humor does not flow out of the eye properly. Fluid pressure in the eye builds up and, over time, causes damage to the optic nerve fibers.
If left untreated, Glaucoma can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.
Glaucoma Risk Factors:
People over 60 are at increased risk for the disease. African Americans have an increase risk begin at the age of 40. The risk of developing glaucoma increases with every year of age.
African-Americans older than age 40 have much higher risk of developing glaucoma than do Caucasians. African-Americans also are more likely to experience permanent blindness as a result of glaucoma. People of Asian descent have an increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma. People of Japanese descent may be more likely to have normal-tension glaucoma.
Family history of glaucoma
If you have a family history of glaucoma, you have a greater risk of developing it. Glaucoma may have a genetic link, meaning there’s a defect in one or more genes that may cause certain individuals to be more susceptible to the disease. A form of juvenile open-angle glaucoma has been clearly linked to genetic abnormalities.
Several conditions may increase your risk of developing glaucoma, including diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and hypothyroidism. Previous eye injuries can also cause glaucoma.