Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. It is usually caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye causing high pressure. This increased intraocular pressure can cause optic nerve damage and typically gets worse over time.
Your optic nerve transmits images to the brain and when damaged, can cause permanent vision loss. If glaucoma goes untreated it can even lead to total blindness. In fact, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Many people with glaucoma have no early signs or symptoms. The onset of the disease can happen gradually so it can go undetected for a long time. Glaucoma is hereditary and is more prominent among African Americans, older adults and women.
Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be reversed, so our ophthalmologists focus on slowing and preventing the progression of vision loss. It can often be treated with medication or eye drops but sometimes requires surgery. Annual eye health exams that include checking the pressure of the eyes are your best defense against glaucoma. Early detection and treatment are crucial for preserving your vision.
It takes a coordinated team to treat and support patients in seeing their best, and that’s what you’ll find at Mercy. If your optometrist detects symptoms of glaucoma during a routine, annual exam, he or she may refer you to a Mercy ophthalmologist, specially trained to treat you with compassionate care. Our goal is to help you see your best, so you live a happier, more complete life.