Contact the Wills Eye Glaucoma Service

Phone: 215-928-3200

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which connects the eye with the brain and carries visual information, and people suffering from glaucoma may lose vision without knowing it.

What is Glaucoma?


Although there are many risk factors for glaucoma, among the most significant is elevated intraocular pressure. According to our current understanding, optic nerve damage in glaucoma develops when the intraocular pressure is at a level the eye cannot tolerate. Importantly, some eyes may develop damage at relatively low intraocular pressures whereas other eyes may not develop damage at relatively high intraocular pressures. Therefore, the appropriate intraocular pressure to avoid damage varies among patients and may even vary during the course of one’s life.


All types of glaucoma need some form of treatment. Some people need surgery. Others may need medicine to treat the eye directly, or to treat some other health problem that is affecting the eye. Still others may need to have certain medicines stopped. Appropriate treatment for glaucoma will prevent loss of sight in the majority of patients whose condition is detected early.

There are several types of glaucoma, and treatment depends on properly identifying which kind is present. One factor common to most types of glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve. No matter whether the pressure is high, average, or below average, it can still cause damage. Some types of glaucoma are chronic and may be present for a lifetime. Other types of glaucoma are acute; that is, they occur suddenly.