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E. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Narrator: January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. This is Science Today. Glaucoma is a sight-threatening condition in which the optic nerve is damaged and affects about 3 million Americans. Dr. Robert Weinreb of the University of California , San Diego says pressure builds in the eye because fluid cannot drain properly.

Weinreb: In the case of glaucoma, for some reason, the drain gets blocked and the fluid is entering the eye but cannot leave the eye at the same rate that it's entering. And this causes the fluid pressure to increase in the eye...very much like if you stop up a drain in the sink in your kitchen, the fluid level is going to rise.

Narrator: If the internal pressure is not alleviated, it can damage the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

Weinreb: Initially, our treatment consists of a series of eye drops that reduce the amount of fluid flowing into the eye or open up the drain.

Narrator: The key to preventing glaucoma is early detection and Weinreb recommends those at risk have an annual exam. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.