Glaucoma is a condition where various factors cause damage to the optic nerve and resultant loss of vision.  Many factors including family history, race, intraocular pressure, thin corneas, and/or, the appearance of the optic nerve can increase the risk of developing glaucoma.  The ultimate diagnosis of glaucoma is based on these factors, as well as, analysis of the retinal nerve fiber layer and visual field studies.
Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma.  The exact cause of the disease is not completely understood but typically has some relation to the pressure inside the eye.  Open-angle refers to the fact that the area where fluid drains from the eye is open or unrestricted.  Primary open angle glaucoma is a slowly progressive disease that must be diagnosed and treated early to avoid irreversible loss of vision.  Primary treatment involves the use of drops, but laser treatment, and even surgery, may be required in more advanced cases.  Unfortunately, glaucoma has no symptoms until the disease is well advanced and significant loss of vision has occurred.  For this reason, the health of the optic nerve must be closely followed to assure treatment is effective and vision loss is not progressing.