Glaucoma is a condition in which the nerve cells which transmit information from the eye to the brain become damaged. This prevents visual information from getting from the retina in the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is often associated with a build-up of pressure in the eye.
The eye is filled with fluid which is constantly being replaced. If excessive amounts of fluid are produced, or if it cannot drain away properly, the pressure inside the eye can increase. In some forms of glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye can become extremely high, but in other forms the pressure may remain normal.
If untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. As the nerve cells are progressively damaged, the ability to see objects in different parts of the visual field is lost. The damage to the nerve cells cannot be reversed although it is often possible to prevent further damage. This damage can progress until only central vision is left or until the person is completely blind. The longer the disease is left untreated, the greater is the likelihood of damage.
Modern examination techniques and treatment have made glaucoma a rare cause of blindness in Australia.