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There are now a number of excellent therapies to treat Glaucoma and slow down the loss of vision. Although there is no cure for this disease, early detection, treatment and close monitoring can prevent vision loss. Since patients often do not have any symptoms of Glaucoma, regular eye exams are important to detect any vision changes.

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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma affects the optic nerve of the eye, which is responsible for the delivery of visual signals from the eye to the visual processing centers of the brain. Glaucoma causes a slow loss of the nerve fibers that comprise the optic nerve, resulting in the development of a black spot in the vision. Glaucoma is an asymptomatic disease that can cause a slow and progressive loss of vision if untreated. Diagnosing Glaucoma requires an extensive eye examination that includes a visual field test to identify any suspicious symptoms affecting the optic nerve or the loss of an area of the visual field.

Who is at risk?

Although Glaucoma may develop at any age, it is more commonly seen in patients over 60 years old. African-American patients have a higher risk of developing Glaucoma and can develop it at a younger age. A family history of Glaucoma and higher intraocular pressure (pressure of the eye) are important risk factors. The average range of intraocular pressure is between 10 and 21; however, Glaucoma can develop in this average range.

Can it be treated?

Although there is no cure for Glaucoma, there are excellent therapies that can help slow the disease progression. Glaucoma can be treated with different eye medications and laser treatments, which are painless and are performed in the office. For some patients, drops and lasers are not enough to control the Glaucoma and surgery may be performed. The Glaucoma surgical procedures, either a trabeculectomy (Trab) or a tube shunt, are performed in the operating room. Each procedure creates a new outflow path to help lower the eye pressure. The goal of Glaucoma therapy is to slow or stop the progression of optic nerve and visual field damage. Early detection, treatment and close monitoring of the disease can help prevent many patients from developing symptomatic visual loss.

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