Glaucoma is a general name for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and the retinal nerve fiber layer of the eye.
The glaucomas are associated with the following factors
- Unphysiologic intraocular pressure
- Fluid outflow restrictions
- Abnormal ocular perfusion
- Abnormal rate of retinal cell loss
Often associated with gradual increases in pressure within the eyeball itself, glaucoma can result in partial or total blindness over time. The damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible, and it is currently the second-leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 40 in the United States.
Currently, 2.7 million people ages 40 and older have open-angle glaucoma. And while anyone can develop glaucoma, the disease is most common in people over age 40, particularly people with an African-American ethnicity. In addition, people with a family history of glaucoma stand at a higher risk to develop the disease, and anyone over age 60, particularly Hispanic persons, faces an increased risk of developing glaucoma.