Friday, May 24 2024 - 12:07 PM
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Glaucoma runs in my family. I watched both my Mom and my Dad wrestle with this disease. That makes my relatives and me at risk to wrestle with it too. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms for most folks and there is no cure.

It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and affects over 60 million people. Here in the United States, it affects about three million. Half of this group do not know they have the disease. Diagnosis and treatment help reduce the risk of going blind.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages and sometimes destroys the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The optic nerve is responsible for sending the information from the eye to the brain. This nerve damage occurs because the fluid pressure in the eye increases. Researchers do not understand what causes this increase of eye pressure.

What are the common symptoms?  Unfortunately, people start to lose vision so gradually that it may go unnoticed. The loss begins peripherally and may start by the nose.  Certain forms of glaucoma may cause sudden eye pain.

A new study published in the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science Journal in 2019 reported that pollution may actually increase the risk of glaucoma.  Researchers reviewed eye examinations of over 111,000 British people over a four-year period. They discovered that those who lived in areas that had a high level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) had a 6% increased risk of glaucoma. Researchers also noticed that the retina was thinner among this population. A thinner retina in the eye is associated with this disease. This study is not proof that pollution causes glaucoma but it warrants further investigation. (1)

If you have a blood relative with glaucoma, then you may be at risk. Share this information with your doctor so that your eye pressure can be checked regularly. If you need more information, visit the following website: At a Glance: Glaucoma.


  1. Priest R. Air Pollution May Up Glaucoma Risk. Accessed December 10, 2019.

Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

is a dietitian, photographer, and writer in Southern California.

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