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One of the most unfortunate aspects of glaucoma is that sometimes there are no warning signs or symptoms. Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases, and some of the forms can really sneak up on you and rob you of your sight. At Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania, our skilled team can recognize the early warning signs of glaucoma during an extensive eye examination.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, the nerve that transmits images from the eye to the brain so that we can see. Most of the time, the nerve damage comes from high pressure inside the eye which is caused by a backup of fluid.
There are two common forms of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, affecting about four million Americans each year. It progresses slowly and usually has no warning signs or symptoms; in fact, patients may not notice any meaningful vision loss for several years.
It occurs when the open drainage angle of the eye becomes clogged over time and pressure inside the eye gradually builds. This occurs gradually and painlessly, so the damage to the optic nerve occurs before you are aware of any problem.
Initial vision loss is usually in your side (or peripheral) vision, which is why most patients really do not notice any marked changes. Regular eye exams are extremely important as they offer the only method for detecting optic nerve damage and vision degradation, two of the main indicators of the disease.
A Rarer Form of Glaucoma
Angle-closure glaucoma develops very quickly, usually in only one eye. This form of glaucoma is more rare, but symptoms appear quickly and can worsen in the span of several hours. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:
- Eye pain that is sudden and severe
- Head pain or headache, often severe
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye redness
- Sudden vision loss in one eye
- Sudden blurred vision
- Halo or rainbow appearance around lights
While all of these can be symptoms of other eye issues, having more than one of them develop suddenly is definitely cause for concern and a sign of a potentially serious problem. Patients who experience any of these symptoms should proceed to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical attention.
What Is My Risk?
There are several factors that can put you at increased risk of glaucoma. Genetics play a role so, if your parents or siblings have the disease, you are more likely to get it as well. People of African-American and Hispanic descent are at higher risk. Other diseases like diabetes and heart disease can increase your risk. Finally, as you age, your risk of glaucoma increases.
Come See Us
If you have experienced any of these glaucoma symptoms, come visit our Glaucoma Eye Center at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania. Please don’t wait for your disease to worsen. Keep in mind that early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to minimize the vision loss that results from glaucoma.
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