Eye Conditions and DiseasesWellness Glossary


Glaucoma is often referred to as a silent visual disease.  What that means is that glaucoma often has no symptoms, causes no pain, and vision stays relatively normal or changes so gradually that most patients don’t notice changes until it has dramatically progressed.

The optic nerve is composed of more than 1 million nerve fibers and it sends information from the retina to the brain.  Increased intra-ocular pressure is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage.  When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle glaucoma-and vision loss—may result. That’s why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.

Anyone can develop glaucoma.  However, some people are at higher risk than others:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • Elevated blood pressure

Without treatment, patients with glaucoma will gradually lose their peripheral or side vision.  If the disease progresses untreated then peripheral vision decreases more and more with time.  Eventually, patients may report that they are looking through a tunnel if not treated appropriately.  If left untreated for long enough, even central vision may decrease as well until no vision remains whatsoever.

Glaucoma treatments include

  • Eyedrops
  • Laser trabeculoplasty
  • Conventional surgery
  • Or a combination of any of these

While these treatments may halt progression, they cannot reverse peripheral vision that has been lost to glaucoma.  Therefore, a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to determine what level of intra-ocular pressure is normal for you and if you are exhibiting any signs of glaucoma.

At Chapel Hill Eyecare, typically we refer to Duke Eye Center off Erwin Road for glaucoma surgery consults.  We typically use Dr. Sanjay Asrani but also have good relationships with all other glaucoma specialists in the Chapel Hill area as well.

Learn more about Glaucoma here https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/

*All information courtesy of the National Eye Institute.