Glaucoma: The Sneak Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly and painlessly steals away your sight. Glaucoma is called the “silent thief of sight” because it has no symptoms until very late in the disease. Glaucoma doesn’t make one’s eyes red or painful, and the central vision can remain unaffected until a severe stage. However, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, and half of the people who have glaucoma don’t know that they have the disease and are not aware that they are going blind.

The cause of glaucoma is unknown, but there are several risk factors that increase the risk of developing glaucoma. These risks include high eye pressure (called intraocular pressure, or IOP), older age, ancestry from western Africa, Asia, and some areas of Scandinavia, and having a family history of glaucoma. Anyone with any of these risk factors should have regular eye examinations to assess for glaucoma.

Glaucoma negatively impacts vision by damaging the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain, and carries visual information to the brain for processing. If the optic nerve is damaged from glaucoma, sight is affected and blindness may result. Peripheral vision is lost first, and further glaucoma progression leads to loss of central vision and blindness.

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