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Glaucoma Diagnosis and Management

Glaucoma is a complex disease that over time causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. In most cases, glaucoma is related to elevated pressure inside the eye. This pressure is not related to blood pressure, and we are not sure why some people develop glaucoma. It does tend to run in families, and certain races are more at risk for developing it.

Glaucoma is a painless disease, and the vision loss often starts as the gradual decline of peripheral vision only. People often would not even know that they have early glaucoma unless it is diagnosed by an eye doctor. Early diagnosis and intervention is the key to glaucoma management. For this reason, eye doctors are very sensitive to looking for the clues and warning signs of early glaucoma. A patient may be labeled as being “suspicious for glaucoma” if some of these warning signs are present but the patient does not show definite signs of the disease yet. This person would then be followed more closely. Once diagnosed, treatment for glaucoma consists of a combination of eyedrops and laser procedures to lower the eye pressure. If the disease is detected early and treated properly over the patient’s lifetime, many patients do very well with minimal if any significant vision impairment. If diagnosed late or inadequately managed, glaucoma can lead to blindness.

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