Glaucoma: definitions, epidemiology and pathophysiology

Glaucoma is a complex and broad subject and this group of diseases is commonly encountered by optometrists in their practice.

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Introduction

The glaucomas are a group of diseases characterised by progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells. This results in cupping of the optic disc, development of progressive and permanent visual field defects and potentially total blindness at the end stage of the disease. Glaucoma is currently the second commonest cause of blindness worldwide after
cataracts (Resnikoff et al. 2004). Globally it is predicted to affect approximately 80 million people by 2020 (Quigley and Broman 2006).

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