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Glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in America, is a condition in which damage is caused to the optic nerve. The vision loss brought on by glaucoma is slow and generally unnoticeable until severe damage has been done. This makes glaucoma hard to detect unless found at a routine eye examination with your eye doctor. This makes attending your regularly scheduled eye exams very important in preventing vision loss brought on by glaucoma.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, making vision loss inevitable and irreversible. This happens by pressure being built in the eye. Your eye produces a fluid called "aqueous humor", which nourishes the eye. Your eye also has a drainage system that keeps the fluid circulating. Glaucoma happens when there is a blockage in the drainage system, or the drainage system cannot keep up with the fluid being produced. This greatly increases the pressure in the eye, which causes a strain on the optic nerve, and over time will cause damage.
There are two treatments available for glaucoma. Your doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops, which can do one of two things: increase the drainage in the eye, or decrease the fluid being produced. Some may need both. The other option is surgery. During surgery, your doctor will use a laser to create tiny holes where the iris and cornea meet. This will increase the drainage and relieve pressure in the eye. This surgery is safe, common and involves little discomfort.