Synonyms: Sneak thief of sight

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Geriatrics, Ophthalmology

Clinical Definition

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can lead to blindness. Often associated with higher pressures of the aqueous humor (clear fluid) that circulates inside the front part of the eye, when pressure builds, it can potentially damage the optic nerve, interfering with transmission of images to the brain. 

In Our Own Words

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve, resulting in partial vision loss and sometimes blindness. It’s a complicated form of vision loss as many people can still see fairly normally at first. Eventually, the visual field starts shrinking and peripheral vision is compromised. 

Experts aren’t sure of the exact mechanism, but damage to the optic nerve, normal aging and fluid buildup with pressure inside the eye are sources of trouble. Recently, researchers found glaucoma may occur even with normal pressure inside the eye if you are genetically predisposed to this condition.  

Relevant Conditions
  • Chronic corticosteroid use
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
Common Types
  • Open-angle glaucoma (most common kind, chronic)
  • Closed-angle glaucoma
Side Effects
  • Declining peripheral vision
  • Eye redness (closed-angle)
  • Eye pain (closed-angle)
Share this article
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Common Eye Disorders." About Vision Health. April 2013. Accessed July 2013.
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Glaucoma,” Disorders. Aug. 2008. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology. "What Is Glaucoma?" Diseases & Conditions, A to Z. Dec. 2013. http://www.geteyesmart.orgAccessed July 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker