By James D. Lakin PhD MD FACP CFI
FAA Senior Aviation Medical Examiner 

Glaucoma: Early Detection Keeps You in the Cockpit


Graphic Courtesy Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Open-angle glaucoma: Normally, fluid in the eye flows freely through the anterior chamber and drains out. If that system is blocked or isn't functioning well, the pressure inside the eye builds, which damages the optic nerve. With the most common type of glaucoma, this causes gradual loss of vision.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. In the U.S. it's estimated that some three million people have it but only half of them know it.

The tragedy is that if left untreated blindness can result. As a matter of fact, some 10% of all blindness is caused by this disease.

Obviously, this is a common problem. If you get it, it can have a big effect on your career as a pilot. So, what is glaucoma, how can you tell if you have it, how is it treated and what does the FAA have to say about it? Glaucoma is a group of disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve. The opt...

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