Glaucoma is defined as damage to the optic nerve, usually in the presence of elevated intraocular pressure. The true risk of glaucoma to any one individual may be as high as 5-10% during a lifetime. Oftentimes, diagnosing a particular person with glaucoma is a complex determination, as it is not simply having an elevated intraocular pressure.
Making the proper determination requires a number of examinations. Aside from measuring the pressure, careful examination of the optic nerve is performed, photographs are taken, and any deviation from a normal appearance is document. Additional tests include visual fields, corneal thickness measurements, and retinal nerve fiber layer analysis. Serial pressure measurements over time may be required as well. After performing the above, a synthesis of the data enables us to determine whether glaucoma exists and if treatment is necessary.
Treatment may consists of eye drops to lower pressure, laser to allow better internal or external fluid flows to lower pressure, or actual operating room surgery to create new drainage pathways for fluid to leave the eye and therefore lower intraocular pressure.