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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve, which carries the images we see to the brain, is damaged. The optic nerve is like an electric cable containing about 1.2 million wires. Glaucoma can damage nerve fibers, causing blind spots to develop.

What causes glaucoma?

Many people know that glaucoma has something to do with pressure inside the eye -- the intraocular pressure (IOP).

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Pressure builds up in the eye when the clear liquid called the aqueous humor, which normally flows in and out of the eye, is prevented from draining properly. This can happen in different ways, depending on the type of glaucoma. The resulting increase in pressure within the eye can damage the optic nerve.

Ophthalmologists used to think that high intraocular pressure was the main cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma, however we now know that even people with "normal" IOP can experience vision loss from glaucoma -- so-called "normal tension glaucoma".

Rangeles.jpg (9308 bytes) Some people with high intraocular pressure (also known as ocular hypertension) never develop the optic nerve damage of glaucoma. (These people need to be followed carefully by an ophthalmologist, because they are considered "glaucoma suspects.")

There may be other factors which affect the optic nerve, even when IOP is in so-called "normal" range. Elevated IOP is still considered a major risk factor for glaucoma, though, because studies have shown that the higher the IOP is, the more likely optic nerve damage is to occur.

If you think you're at risk for glaucoma, and haven't had a medical eye examination in the past two years, you can call the Eye Room at Manila Doctors Hospital 524-3011 loc 3720 for a referral to an ophthalmologist in your area.