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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Glaucoma

Description: A group of diseases of the eye characterized by increased pressure, resulting in blindness if not treated successfully.

Symptoms: The most common type of adult primary glaucoma, chronic simple glaucoma, is characterized by very few symptoms in the early stages; many people have the disease without knowing it. There may be some hazy vision and mild discomfort in the eye and later there is a barely-noticed loss of peripheral vision. As the disease progresses there is reduced visual acuity and greatly increased intraocular pressure that can cause the appearance of colored rings or halos around bright objects.

Number of Americans diagnosed: Glaucoma strikes more than two percent of all those over 40 years of age in the United States. It rarely occurs in anyone under 40.

Long-term problems/treatments: Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are required to prevent the serious consequences of increased intraocular pressure. Chronic simple glaucoma is treated medically through the use of beta blockers, miotics to facilitate aqueous outflow, and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors to reduce the rate at which aqueous humor is produced. The patient must continue prescribed medications for the rest of their life. Some types of glaucoma can be treated surgically.
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The Glaucoma Foundation

Glaucoma Research Foundation

National Eye Institute


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