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Adult Glaucoma Suspect

Adult Glaucoma Suspect Overview

Glaucoma is usually high pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve and can result in permanent vision loss. While a diagnosis of glaucoma is certain when high pressure inside the eye, optic nerve damage, and vision loss are present, not all criteria are required to diagnose glaucoma.

Elevated pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP), is a primary concern because it is one of the main risk factors for glaucoma. In fact, the prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma, is higher with increasing IOP.

Eye pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal eye pressure ranges from 10-21 mm Hg. Elevated IOP is a pressure of greater than 21 mm Hg. The term ocular hypertension (OHT) refers to any situation in which IOP is higher than normal.

Glaucoma suspect describes a person with one or more risk factors that may lead to glaucoma, including increasing IOP, but this person does not yet have definite optic nerve damage or vision loss due to glaucoma.

A great overlap can exist between findings in people with early glaucoma and in those who are glaucoma suspect and without the disease.

Because of this, regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery) are very important to identify and treat people who are glaucoma suspect. By monitoring them for the earliest signs of glaucomatous damage, visual function can often be preserved.

In individuals who are at a high risk of developing glaucomatous damage, preventive measures, including lowering the pressure inside the eye, may be needed.

In the United States, glaucoma is the second most common cause of legal blindness.

Race can be a factor in the development of glaucoma.

  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. African Americans have a significantly increased risk for developing POAG. The prevalence of POAG is higher in African Americans than in whites. Glaucoma also usually occurs earlier. African Americans who are diagnosed with glaucoma are not only are more likely to become blind, but also go blind 8 times faster.
  • Asians, Canadians, Alaskans, Greenland Inuit Indians, and certain South American Indians are at an increased risk for narrow-angle glaucoma.

POAG affects men and women equally, although women are at a greater risk for angle-closure glaucoma than men.

Increasing age is a definite risk factor.

  • The risk of POAG increases with advancing age.
  • The prevalence of POAG higher among individuals older than 80 years than among people in their 40s.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/23/2014
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