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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a buildup of fluid in the eye and the leading cause of irreversible blindness. The disease has no initial symptoms, is often hereditary, and can only be diagnosed through regular eye exams. With early detection and treatment, however, you can protect your eyes against serious glaucoma-related vision loss.

Without treatment, people with glaucoma slowly lose their peripheral vision and feel as if they are looking through a tunnel. Eventually, their central vision decreases until they are completely blind.

If you’re over 40 and have a family history of glaucoma, you should receive a complete eye exam every year. If you have diabetes or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to go more frequently. An optometrist can use a variety of exams to diagnose glaucoma, including:

  • Visual acuity test – an eye-chart test that measures how well you see at various distances
  • Visual field test – a test that measures whether you have lost any peripheral vision, a sign of glaucoma
  • Dilated eye exam – an exam in which your eyes are dilated so your doctor can examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems
  • Nerve fiber analysis – a scan of the retina to create a map of retinal nerve fiber thickness
  • Tonometry – a test that measures pressure inside the eye to detect glaucoma
  • Pachymetry – a measurement of the thickness of your cornea, using an ultrasonic wave

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