Symptoms of Glaucoma

There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are excellent treatments that can help slow down vision loss. The glaucoma experts at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania will evaluate any symptoms you may have and provide treatment that can help preserve your vision.

The board certified, fellowship-trained Glaucoma specialists at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania include Mehul H. Negarsheth, MD, who received his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine and completed his glaucoma fellowship at Tufts New England Eye Center and Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, and Abhishek Nemani, MD, who received his medical degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and was fellowship-trained in at the prestigious Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

This skilled team of board certified ophthalmologists has vast experience in all current glaucoma treatments. They will evaluate your eyes and provide you with exceptional care while helping you make informed decisions about available treatment options that can minimize the effects of the disease.

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.

The eye is nourished by a clear fluid (called aqueous humor) that circulates inside and is constantly returned to the blood stream by what is called the trabecular meshwork, or the eye’s drainage canals. The production, circulation and drainage of this fluid are ongoing and necessary for the health of the eye.

When something goes wrong with the drainage canal and the fluid is unable to leave the eye as fast as it is produced, pressure inside the eye begins to build. This excess fluid pressure pushes against the delicate optic nerve. If the pressure stays too high for too long, permanent vision loss can occur.

There are several forms of glaucoma. Two of the most common forms are primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. According to The Glaucoma Foundation, it occurs mainly in individuals over the age of 50 and affects about one percent of all Americans. 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.

Angle-closure glaucoma, sometimes called narrow-angle glaucoma, occurs when the drainage angle of the eye becomes completely blocked. This results in a sudden rise of dangerously high pressure. This is a much more rare form of glaucoma, but can cause blindness in the affected eye if not treated promptly.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma: There are usually no warning signs or symptoms for this form of glaucoma. It progresses slowly and may not cause vision loss for many years, although some individuals notice a gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision, usually in both eyes. It is important to have regular eye exams to detect any vision changes or damage.

Angle-closure glaucoma: This rarer form of glaucoma develops rapidly. An acute attack may involve only one eye, but the symptoms are noticeable and may worsen over a few hours. They include:

  • Sudden severe eye pain
  • Headache or head pain
  • Nausea or vomiting (along with the pain)
  • Sudden blurred or hazy vision
  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Halos or rainbows around lights
  • Redness of the eye

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room. The above symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have glaucoma, but they are signs of a potentially serious problem.

Next Steps

Don’t wait until you notice these eye problems. Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize or prevent damage to the optic nerve and minimize loss of vision before the glaucoma becomes too advanced.

If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of glaucoma, or you have been told that you have glaucoma, it’s important to get your eyes examined right away by a trained glaucoma specialist. Get in touch with Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania to schedule an evaluation. We are the leading ophthalmology practice in Berks, Schuylkill, Lebanon, Lancaster and Montgomery counties and have offices in Reading (Wyomissing), Pottsville, Pottstown and Blandon, PA. For an appointment, call toll-free 1-800-762-7132.

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