Often described as the silent thief of sight, glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the world. High pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, first stealing peripheral vision (what you see at the corners of your eyes) and later harming central vision (what you see when looking straight ahead). Usually, people notice no symptoms until vision loss occurs.
Lowering high eye pressure is the only known treatment to prevent or interrupt glaucoma. But does everyone with higher-than-normal eye pressure need to be treated? A major long-term study provides some clues, though not yet a complete answer.
Does everyone with high eye pressure develop glaucoma?
In the US, glaucoma affects an estimated three million people, half of whom do not know that they have it. An ophthalmologist can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine if someone has glaucoma, or is at risk for developing it in the future due to high eye pressure (ocular hypertension). Research from the long-running Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) shows that some people with high eye pressure may never develop glaucoma, while others will.