Signs of Glaucoma

Have you been curious about the signs of glaucoma? Unfortunately, glaucoma often has no warning signs or symptoms.

What Is Glaucoma?

Rather than a single disease, glaucoma is actually a group of diseases caused by a buildup of internal eye pressure which over time can cause sight loss. An annual thorough eye exam is truly the only way to recognize glaucoma’s early warning signs. The highly experienced staff at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania is very adept at recognizing these signs and symptoms.

Glaucoma exists in two common forms: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. The open-angle form of glaucoma is by far the most common, affecting around four million Americans every year. Open-angle glaucoma progresses slowly and usually has no warning signs or symptoms. In fact, patients can have the open-angle form for several years without experiencing any meaningful vision loss. “Open-angle” refers to the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea.

Over time, the natural drainage canals in this area of the eye become clogged, resulting in a buildup of internal pressure. The increased pressure does damage to the optic nerve, and this is why regular eye exams are so very important. In fact, the exam is the only method for detecting optic nerve damage and vision degradation, two of the main indicators of this form of the disease.

With the open-angle form, initial vision loss usually first occurs in the side or peripheral vision — much harder for patients to really notice any marked changes. As the disease progresses, the sharpness in your vision (called visual acuity) remains unphased, making it even more difficult to notice problems. Sadly, by the time most patients notice any significant vision loss, the glaucoma is quite advanced. Any vision loss that has already occurred cannot be reversed, even with surgery.

Glaucoma in Its Other Form

The other form of glaucoma is the polar opposite of the open-angle form. This second form, known as angle-closure glaucoma actually develops very rapidly and typically only one eye. While angle-closure glaucoma is extremely rare, this form does have quite a few noticeable signs of glaucoma that appear very quickly and become worse in a matter of hours. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:

  • Sudden and severe eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Redness in the eye
  • Sudden vision loss in one eye
  • Sudden blurred vision
  • Halo or rainbow appearance around lights

While all of these symptoms by themselves can be indicative of other eye issues, having a sudden onset of more than one of these symptoms is a sign of a very serious condition and definitely cause for concern. Patients who experience any of these sudden-onset symptoms should immediately go to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical attention.

What Is My Risk?

There are several factors that increase your risk of having glaucoma. Genetics are definitely a factor, so if you have other immediate family members like siblings or parents who have glaucoma, you are much more susceptible. In particular, African-Americans and Hispanics are at much higher risk. If you have chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, you are also at greater risk for glaucoma. Finally, age itself is a risk factor; the older you are, the higher your risk of developing glaucoma.

Come See Us

Don’t wait. Come visit our Glaucoma Eye Center at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania if you have experienced any of these symptoms. If you do have signs of glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can minimize your vision loss.

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