According to the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in Canada. Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerve at the back of the eye, and is caused when fluid builds up in and around the eye putting pressure on the nerve, eventually causing irreversible damage.
The fluid build up can be the result of a myriad array of issues, and those that have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, have suffered from a concussion, or have high blood pressure are more at risk. Direct eye trauma can also cause issues, especially if the trauma was from blunt force, such as experienced by boxers and football players. Many patients are unaware that they have the disease until irrevocable damage has occurred to the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage can result in loss of peripheral vision and can eventually lead to tunnel vision or total darkness in the affected eye.
Treatment for glaucoma is effective, but only if the disease is caught early. Once vision loss caused by damage to the optic nerve has occurred, it cannot be reversed. Laser microsurgery and eye drops are common treatments.