If you think glaucoma is solely a disease of old age, it is time that you opened your eyes to the facts of this eye disease. While it is true that the prevalence of glaucoma is considerably higher in the population over age 65, many young people also have the disease, which usually involves a buildup in the internal fluid of the eye that damages the optic nerve. This can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. Those who are at higher risk for developing the disease should be monitored very closely. African-Americans, people of Caribbean-island origin or descent, and those with a family history of the disease are at much higher risk than the general population. Because the vision loss associated with glaucoma usually occurs gradually and goes unnoticed by those affected by the disease, diagnosis nearly always requires a thorough eye exam.
Glaucoma is not reserved for seniors. At first, a person with glaucoma will notice no symptoms. Vision remains normal, and there is no pain. However, as the disease progresses, the person’s side vision gradually fails and narrows with time. Whether or not you experience eye discomfort or diminished vision, it is important to have routine eye exams to preserve your vision.