Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions which result in vision loss. The back of your eye continuously makes a clear fluid called aqueous humor. As this fluid is made, it fills the front part of your eye. Then, it leaves your eye through channels in your cornea and iris. If these channels are blocked or partially obstructed, the natural pressure in your eye, which is called the intraocular pressure (IOP), may increase. As your IOP increases, your optic nerve may become damaged from this increase in pressure. As damage to your nerve progresses, you may begin to experience a loss of vision. This damage to the optic nerve from high intraocular pressure is called glaucoma.
The cause of glaucoma generally is a failure of the eye to maintain an appropriate balance between the amount of internal fluid produced and the amount that drains away. What causes this to happen isn’t always known. However, doctors believe one or more of these factors may play a role:
Dilating eye drops
Blocked or restricted drainage in your eye
Medications – such as corticosteroids
Poor or reduced blood flow to your optic nerve
High or elevated blood pressure
Less common causes include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside the eye and inflammatory conditions. Glaucoma usually affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.
Anyone can get glaucoma, but no one knows the exact cause of the condition. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop glaucoma. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease. These glaucoma risk factors may act together to increase the risk even more. The risk of glaucoma is higher in the following people:
African Americans over age 40
Everyone over age 60
People with a family history of glaucoma
People with diabetes