Glaucoma describes a number of related conditions that can cause damage to the optic nerve. It normally is associated with high intraocular pressure (IOP). Left untreated glaucoma can cause blindness.
In most patients, there are no signs of glaucoma until vision loss occurs, which is why regular eye exams are recommended to monitor the overall health of the eyes.
The exception is acute angle-closure glaucoma that can develop suddenly and causes headaches, severe eye pain and nausea. This type of glaucoma is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.
For people over the age of 60, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is more common in older adults but can occur at any age. Congenital glaucoma can exist in some infants.
The most common form of glaucoma is open angle glaucoma, this type of glaucoma is hereditary. If a parent or grandparent has been diagnosed with glaucoma, you are four to nine times more likely to develop glaucoma. Other factors leading to the onset of glaucoma are not completely understood.
There is no known cure for glaucoma, but most patients are able to maintain their vision by combining a healthy lifestyle and glaucoma treatments.
The nerve cells in the retina and optic nerve are not regenerated once they are lost. There are no known methods to restore vision loss from the impacts of glaucoma.