Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve of the eye. The optic nerve is connected to the retina — a layer of light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye — and is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable is made up of many wires. It is the optic nerve that sends signals from your retina to your brain, where these signals are interpreted as the images you see.
There are several types of glaucoma, that can only be diagnosed by your doctor. During your routine eye exam, the doctor will screen you for the presence of glaucoma and may order additional tests to rule out the diagnosis.
Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated. Only about half of the estimated three million Americans who have glaucoma are even aware that they have the condition. When glaucoma develops, usually you don’t have any early symptoms and the disease progresses slowly. In this way, glaucoma can steal your sight very gradually. Glaucoma is not a curable condition but treatable. Fortunately, early detection and treatment can help preserve your vision.