Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information from the light sensitive layer in your eye, the retina, to the brain where it is perceived as a picture.
Your eye needs a certain amount of pressure to keep the eyeball in shape so that it can work properly. In some people, the glaucoma damage is caused by raised eye pressure. Others may have an eye pressure within normal limits but damage occurs because there is a weakness in the optic nerve. In most cases, both factors of high pressure and weakness in the optic nerve are involved, but to a varying extent.
Eye pressure is largely independent of blood pressure. In the UK some form of glaucoma affects about two in 100 people over the age of 40.
Glaucoma often, but not always, runs in families. It is recommended that people with a close family member who suffers from it should have regular annual eye eximinations. As glaucoma becomes much more common over the age of 40 you should have eye tests at least every two years and ask for all three glaucoma tests. This has been shown to be much more effective in detecting glaucoma than just having one or two of the tests.
Although damage already done cannot be repaired, with early diagnosis and careful regular observation and treatment, damage can usually be kept to a minimum, and good vision can be enjoyed indefinitely.