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Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. But blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment.

What Is the Main Cause of Glaucoma? Your eye constantly makes fluid. As new fluid flows into your eye, the same amount should drain out. This process keeps pressure in the eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) stable. But if the process is not working properly, fluid builds up. Pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve. As nerve fibers die, visual blind spots develop. If all of the fibers die, blindness occurs.

Risk of Glaucoma

Some people have a higher than normal risk of getting glaucoma. This includes people who:

  • are over age 40
  • have family members with glaucoma
  • are of African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage
  • have high eye pressure
  • are farsighted or nearsighted
  • have had an eye injury
  • use long-term steroid medications
  • have corneas that are thin in the center
  • have thinning of the optic nerve


Your Role in Glaucoma Treatment

Treating glaucoma successfully is a team effort between you and your doctor. Your ophthalmologist will prescribe your glaucoma treatment. It is up to you to use your eye drops as instructed. Once you are taking medications for glaucoma, you can expect to visit your doctor about every 3–6 months.

For more information about eye health and how to protect your eyes, visit the Academy’s EyeSmart website.

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