What is Glaucoma and Why Does it Affect the Elderly?

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According to the National Eye Institute, Glaucoma eye disease can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. It occurs when the inner pressure of the eye slowly rises. With regular eye exams and early treatment, you can often protect your eyes from glaucoma and vision loss.

How Does Glaucoma Develop?

At the front of the eye there is a space between the iris and the cornea called the anterior chamber. It is filled with a clear intraocular fluid that continuously flows in and out of the chamber and nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber where the cornea and iris meet, called the angle. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork of drainage canals and leaves the eye.

In some people, the fluid does not circulate properly. As it builds up, pressure inside the eye increases, like an over-filled water balloon. Left untreated, this elevated eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and vision loss may result.

Not every person with increased eye pressure will develop glaucoma. Some people can tolerate higher eye pressure better than others. Regular, comprehensive dilated eye exams will help your eye care professional monitor your eye health and determine what level of pressure is normal for you.