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Glaucoma: The Silent Blinding Disease  
05/16/2012

Glaucoma is a condition that affects a lot of people but exists as little than a recognizable medical term in the public consciousness.  Most people do not know the truth about glaucoma, but need to. Glaucoma is such a common cause of blindness and there are quite a few treatments available.  Here is what you need to know about the silent blinding disease known as Glaucoma.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not a single condition but rather is a group of conditions.  These conditions all affect the optic nerve. This nerve  transmits visual information collected by the eye to the brain.  With this explanation, it is not hard to see how Glaucoma would impair vision. The main cause of damage to this optic nerve in Glaucoma is pressure placed directly on the optic nerve.  This pressure is referred to as Intraocular Pressure. 

Why Is Glaucoma Called The Silent Blinding Disease?

Glaucoma is called the “Silent Blinding Disease”, because without treatment this condition can continuously impair vision and lead to complete blindness.  Furthermore, it can do so without any warning or noticeable symptoms. Once the damage has been done, then there is usually nothing that can be done to reverse it.  This is why Glaucoma is thought of as the Silent Blinding Disease. THe disease can take a person's vision before they realize what is happening. Many people who have Glaucoma are not even aware of it.

How Many People Have Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.  Estimates put the number of individuals with Glaucoma at a worldwide 4.5 million and these numbers are expected to climb to 11.2 million by the year 2020. 

What Causes Glaucoma?

As discussed earlier, the main cause of Glaucoma is intraocular pressure or pressure placed on the optic nerve that damages that nerve.  The reason for this buildup of pressure is not always apparent.  It may happen gradually over time or could occur suddenly, which would require immediate medical attention.  There are other causes of Glaucoma including various eye diseases, systemic diseases, corticosteroids, and certain types of ocular trauma.  Congenital Glaucoma occurs in young infants and results in improper eye development.

How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

The condition is diagnosed with an eye exam.   The process may include a drop being put into the eye to help dilate it so that the eye care professional may more clearly see the interior of the eye.  Eye pressure may be checked, however people with Glaucoma may have normal eye pressure so further testing may be necessary.  Some of the other tests that your eye doctor may choose to administer are visual acuity tests, slit lamp examination, visual field measurement, optic nerve imaging, or more; depending on the situation. 

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Glaucoma treatments depend on the underlying causes of each specific case.  Some people can treat their glaucoma exclusively with eye drops while others require laser therapy, eye surgery, or medications. Individuals whose glaucoma is caused by another condition may be able to partially or totally resolve their symptoms by treating the underlying condition. 

Glaucoma is called the “Silent Blinding Disease”, because without proper testing a person may not realize that they have Glaucoma until it is too late. The only solution is awareness and proper detection to ensure that Glaucoma is caught in time to prevent permanent damage. There is no cure for glaucoma, however there are procedures and treatments that slows or stops the progression of this disease.