The eye makes its own water and pumps it into the center of the eye. This creates pressure much in the same way as pumping air into a tire does. And just like with a tire, too much or too little pressure will cause damage. There are many conditions that can raise the pressure in the eyes. Genetics, medications, injury, inflammation, infections, diabetes and surgery can all affect the eye pressure.
Glaucoma can only be diagnosed with an eye examination. The eye doctor looks for signs of damage to the optic nerve. A visual field test is performed. This test uses flashing lights to find the blind spots that are created by glaucoma. Another test called an OCT measures the thickness of the nerves. When glaucoma damages the nerves, they become thinner. Both tests are also used to determine if known glaucoma is worsening.
Glaucoma is treated by lowering the pressure. Eye drops are very effective at treating glaucoma. When eye drops are not effective or can not be tolerated, laser surgery or more extensive surgery is used to lower the pressure. The majority of glaucoma patients will maintain good vision if they are compliant with taking their eye drops.
Glaucoma is a common cause of vision loss that can be successfully treated in most patients if it is caught early. This is yet another reason to have an eye exam and to keep enjoying a vision of health.