Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Glaucoma

The fluid inside your eye generally drains into the front of the eye. When your eye produces too much fluid or the drainage system is blocked, the pressure builds and causes damage to the optic nerve. The result is blind spots in your peripheral vision.

The causes of glaucoma are not well understood, but there does appear to be a genetic component. If you have glaucoma, your siblings and children are more likely to have it as well.

Risk factors for glaucoma

  • Race: African-Americans, Latinos and Asians are at a greater risk of developing glaucoma than Caucasians.
  • Age: The older you are, the greater your risk for glaucoma.
  • Heredity: If you have relatives with glaucoma, you have a greater chance of developing the disease yourself.
  • Blood pressure: There is a correlation between high blood pressure and glaucoma.
  • Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to have glaucoma.
  • Myopia: People who are very nearsighted are more likely to develop glaucoma.

Diagnosing glaucoma

In addition to a complete medical history and eye examination, your eye care professional may perform the following tests to diagnose glaucoma:

  • Visual acuity test: This common eye chart test measures vision ability at various distances using a series of lenses.
  • Visual field test: This test measures your peripheral (side) vision.
  • Tonometry: This standard test determines the pressure (intraocular pressure, or IOP) inside the eye.
  • Pupil dilation: The pupil is widened with eye drops to allow a close-up examination of the optic nerve and retina for damage.
  • Pachymetry: This test measures the thickness of your cornea using an ultrasonic wave instrument.