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Glaucoma is a condition that affects the eye (optic) nerve and, if left untreated, can cause blindness. There are different types of glaucoma, with open-angle glaucoma being the most common form.

Glaucoma develops very slowly and usually goes unnoticed until it causes severe loss of side (peripheral) vision or difficulty in adjusting to a darkened room. Most people can save their vision with early diagnosis and treatment.

What causes glaucoma?

The exact cause of glaucoma is not well known, but one of the major risk factors for glaucoma is elevated eye pressure. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises over time. If left untreated, this increased pressure inside the eye can eventually damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.

Glaucoma also has a heredity component. Simply having someone in your family diagnosed with glaucoma does not automatically mean you will get it; however, it increases your risk. Regular eye exams for people with this risk factor are especially important, particularly as people get older.

It is possible to have high eye pressure, known as ocular hypertension, and not have glaucoma. Conversely, it is possible to have glaucoma with normal or low pressure in the eyes. A small percentage of glaucoma patients fall into this category. This is why it is so important to have an eye examination. It is the only way to detect glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

Glaucoma treatments include medicines in the form of eye drops, laser or conventional surgery or a combination of these. While treatments may save remaining vision, they will not improve sight already lost from glaucoma. Early detection is important, especially since generally there are no symptoms until glaucoma has begun to steal your vision.

Visit our patient education library to learn more about glaucoma.

For more information about glaucoma treatment in the San Jose, California area or to schedule an appointment, please call our ophthalmology office at (408) 971-2020 or request an appointment online.