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The term glaucoma, refers to a group of disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve of the eye. The optic nerve can be thought of as the connecting cable which links the eye to the brain. Once that cable or optic nerve is severely damaged, (and the damage is irreversible), blindness can result.
Glaucoma blinds an estimated 60,000 people each year worldwide. Over 3 million Americans carry the diagnosis of glaucoma and it is estimated that an additional 2-3 million Americans are at risk.
Screening for glaucoma consists of a comprehensive eye examination including intraocular pressure measurement, optic disc examination and visual field testing where indicated.
People at greatest risk to develop glaucoma include people over age 50 with elevated intraocular pressure, African-americans, and people with affected family members.
Treatment for glaucoma includes topical and oral medications, and laser and incisional surgery. The overwhelming majority of patients found to have glaucoma can be treated and their vision preserved.