Glaucoma is the word used to describe multiple progressive eye conditions characterized by damage to the optic nerve. The two most common forms of glaucoma are characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) or pressure inside the eye which damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is vital in order to send visual information to the brain, and that route is interrupted when it is damaged.
As a result of glaucoma, the patient loses their field of vision slowly, over time, and is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Many other symptoms, including headaches, eye pain, nausea, and blurred vision, are also suffered as a result of glaucoma. Only about half of the people suffering from glaucoma even know that they have it – for this reason, the disease is often called the “silent thief of sight”.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation estimates that there are 60 million people suffering from glaucoma in the world – 2.7 million in the U.S. alone.