Glaucoma is a disease in which pressure builds in the eye and can result in damage to the optic nerve. There are several types of glaucoma, but the two most common forms primary are open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). There is no treatment to restore vision that is lost due to glaucoma, so prevention and treatment of the condition are crucial to avoid vision loss. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of glaucoma so you are able to receive treatment before vision is lost.
Warning signs and symptoms of open-angle glaucoma
Unfortunately, open-angle glaucoma typically has no symptoms until some vision loss has occurred. This type of glaucoma develops slowly, and changes in sight are slight and over several years. Initially, it is side or peripheral vision that is affected, which is why an individual with open-angle glaucoma may not notice changes in vision. By the time vision changes are noticed, significant vision has been lost, and it is too late to restore that vision loss.
Because there are no clear signs or symptoms of open-angle glaucoma, regular eye exams are critical. Your eye doctor can test for glaucoma during an annual, comprehensive eye exam. If he or she detects glaucoma, preventative treatments may be prescribed to help prevent vision loss.
Warning signs and symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma
Unlike open-angle glaucoma, there are noticeable symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma. These warning signs and symptoms include:
- Severe eye and/or head pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Appearance of rainbows around bright lights
- Sudden loss of sight
Simple tests to measure eye pressure and a microscopic inspection will usually alert your doctor of any problems that may suggest glaucoma. If glaucoma is suspected, a nerve fiber analyzer may be used to determine if there is any damage to the optic nerve as well as a visual field test to measure the amount of peripheral vision loss. There is no prevention for glaucoma, but progression of the disease can be slowed down with early detection and treatment. It is important that your eye doctor is aware of any family history of glaucoma.
Treatment for glaucoma typically consists of prescribed medicated eye drops to control the pressure within the eye. In severe cases, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) can be performed to open drainage holes in the eye, allowing the fluid to move more freely to reduce the high pressure. This procedure could eliminate the need for eye drops.
Because glaucoma could result in vision loss, it is critical to know the warning signs and symptoms of the disease, and to seek immediate treatment. People who have a family history of the disease, high blood pressure or high blood sugar may be at higher risk of developing glaucoma. Contact Key-Whitman today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to test your eyes for signs of glaucoma.