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Eye and Vision Care

Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Your eye is like a camera – it takes pictures of the outside world.

Your brain is like a computer – it takes information from your eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and ears and makes sense of everything.

The optic nerve is like a cable that connects the camera to a computer.

In glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged. If this happens, information from the camera cannot get to the computer. Even though your eyes may be working, your brain cannot get the signals because the wire connecting them is broken.

You can get glaucoma in one eye, or both. Glaucoma does not spread from one eye to the other.

Who gets glaucoma?

You are more likely to get glaucoma if you have the following risk factors:

Your eye doctor might be worried about glaucoma if you have:

What are the symptoms?

Is there anything I can do to prevent glaucoma?

How do I know if I have glaucoma?

You might have some of the symptoms in the list above, or you might have no symptoms at all if early on.

When you go to the eye doctor, he can measure your eye pressure and see your optic nerve by looking through the microscope, or by doing some tests.

What tests will the eye doctor use to see if I have glaucoma?

What is the Cup-to-Disc Ratio?

The Cup-to-Disc ratio is how your optic nerve looks in the back of your eye. It is a way of monitoring the damage from glaucoma.

What are the treatment options?

Early on, eye drops can be used to lower the pressure. There are many types of eye drops, and your doctor will help you find the right combination of drops for you to use in order to control your eye pressure.

If your eye pressure stays high, or if there is damage to the optic nerve despite using drops, surgery might be needed to lower your eye pressure.

Resources

Prepared in partnership with Lily Huang, MD, Class of 2013, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

For more information:

Go to the Eye and Vision Care health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Oct 01, 2012

Suber S Huang, MD, MBA Suber S Huang, MD, MBA
Professor
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University