July 26, 2002 at 2:33 PM CDT - Updated July 2 at 9:40 PM
Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in the fluid pressure in the eye. The front part of the eye contains a clear, nourishing fluid called aqueous which constantly circulates through the eye. Normally, this fluid leaves the eye through a drainage system and returns to the blood stream.
Glaucoma occurs from an overproduction of fluid or when the the drainage system becomes blocked, causing fluid pressure to increase. The high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss. The exact reason the fluid system in the eye stops functioning properly is not completely understood. Much research is being done in this area to further our understanding of glaucoma.
Some of the high risk factors include: - Increasing Age - African-American Heritage - High Blood Pressure - Family History - Diabetes - Nearsightedness - Long-Term Steroid Treatment - Injury or Trauma to the Eye