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Eye and Vision Care

Glaucoma Eye Disease: Are You At Risk?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes optic nerve damage leading to vision loss. If glaucoma is not treated, it can lead to blindness depending on the number of risk factors that a patient has. It is estimated that over four million Americans have the disease but only half of those know they have it. Glaucoma occurs in approximately one in 50 people in the United States, and it typically does not cause any symptoms of pain or redness. Vision loss is usually not noticeable until advanced stages of the disease. Therefore, it is very important to schedule routine dilated eye exams every year, especially if you have certain risk factors for developing glaucoma.

People of African descent are six to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than people of other racial or ethnic groups. In African Americans, glaucoma occurs at a younger age, is more severe, and is the number one cause of blindness. The prevalence of glaucoma in U.S. Hispanics has been reported at 6% in individuals 41 years of age and older, and it has been reported to be as high as 12% in those 80 years old and older. Normal tension glaucoma (glaucoma with normal eye pressure) has been reported at a higher rate in Asians. Advancing age is a major risk factor for all individuals, increasing the occurrence four to 10 times in African Americans and Hispanics over 40 years of age. 


Glaucoma Risk Factors

Who is at risk for glaucoma?


Additional risk factors: 


What can you do to reduce your risk? 

Have a dilated eye exam performed by your eye doctor every one to two years. Early detection and treatment is a key step in preventing permanent loss of vision due to glaucoma.


Common Types of Glaucoma




Glaucoma Management and Treatment

If glaucoma is diagnosed, usually the first line of treatment to control the disease is through the prescription of topical eye drops that lower the pressure inside the eyes. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma and your eye care provider prescribes eye drops, it is very important to use the drops as prescribed. Not being compliant with the prescribed schedule could lead to vision loss and disease progression. More severe forms of glaucoma and certain types of the disease are managed through surgical techniques or laser treatment.


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Last Reviewed: Sep 09, 2010

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Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University