Apoptosis is a form of genetically programmed cell death that can be induced by a variety of different stimuli. It is often referred to as a form of cellular suicide. Typically, apoptosis is characterized by the condensation and shrinkage of the cellular nucleus and cytoplasm, followed by the complete fragmentation of the cell and subsequent phagocytosis of the debris by surrounding cells. Although important during development, and also for maintaining homeostasis in some adult tissues, apoptosis can also be associated with disease processes. Recent laboratory studies indicate that apoptosis is a mechanism of cell death in several important ocular diseases including glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, cataract formation, retinoblastoma, retinal ischemia, and diabetic retinopathy. This review summarizes the results of these studies and provides a brief description of some of the key molecules that are involved in the genetic regulation of apoptosis. It is possible that a complete understanding of how these molecules function may someday lead to new treatment options aimed at blocking the death of cells in a variety of ocular diseases.