Glaucoma is one of the two leading causes of preventable blindness in the US and other developed countries. There are over three million people in the US and over 75 million people worldwide who have this blinding disease, and more than half of them do not know that they have it. It gradually destroys the retina, the part of the eye which detects light and converts the light into signals which are then sent to the brain. Generally people do not even realize that their sight is being diminished until 40 to 50% of their retina is permanently destroyed.
Unfortunately the disease is irreversible. Once destroyed, the cells of the retina cannot be regenerated. However, if detected early, glaucoma can be halted by the use of drugs and/or surgery. It is therefore vital that the disease be detected as early as possible to minimize retinal damage and vision loss. The single most important factor increasing the chance of developing glaucoma is age. The older people get, the more likely it is that they will develop glaucoma. It is recommended that anyone 50 years or older have a glaucoma test every year or two. However, it should be stated that even though it is less frequent, young adults and children can also develop this disease.
In addition to age, certain factors increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These other risk factors include a family history of glaucoma, high blood pressure, prior eye injury, severe near sightedness and diabetes. People over 50 who have additional risk factors should have a visual field test and a complete eye exam more frequently.
For more extensive information about glaucoma and its treatment go to the VisionRx Eyecare Library.