What Is The First Sign Of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by pressure buildup in the internal eye. Over time, it can cause sight loss. You might be asking yourself, “What is the first sign of glaucoma?” Unfortunately, this disease often has no early signs or symptoms, so an annual thorough eye exam is truly the only way to recognize glaucoma’s early warning signs. Fortunately, the trained staff at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania has a Glaucoma Eye Center of Excellence for this very purpose.

Forms of the Disease

There are two forms of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is certainly the most common; it affects around three million Americans and many millions more worldwide. This form of glaucoma progresses very slowly and typically has no warning signs or symptoms, explaining why it is called the silent thief of sight. Most people can have open-angle glaucoma for several years before any symptoms or noticeable vision loss occur.

Over time, the eye’s natural drainage canals become clogged and internal pressure builds and damages the optic nerve. An eye exam is the only way to detect the optic nerve damage caused by the fluid and pressure buildup.

If you do start experiencing vision loss, it will usually first occur in your peripheral vision or in your side vision, both of which are harder for patients to really notice. As glaucoma worsens, your visual sharpness (called visual acuity) does not change, so you can see why most people do not notice any symptoms. By the time most patients do notice significant vision loss, the glaucoma is quite advanced. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse any vision loss that has already occurred.

The other form of glaucoma is called angle-closure glaucoma. It is a much rarer condition that develops very rapidly and typically only affects one eye. This form of glaucoma does have quite a few noticeable signs that appear quickly and worsen in just a matter of a few hours. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:

  • Severe, sudden eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Halo or rainbow appearance around lights
  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Eye redness
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting

You can certainly have single symptoms that can indicate something else, but one or more of these symptoms with a sudden onset requires immediate medical treatment at your nearest emergency room.

Glaucoma Risks

You may be wondering if you are at increased risk of developing glaucoma. There are certain indicators, such as a family history. If your parents or siblings have glaucoma, you have an increased genetic risk. Furthermore, individuals of either Hispanic or African-American descent are also at higher risk. Age is also a risk factor.

Other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease also put you at greater risk for glaucoma.

Come See Us

What is the first sign of glaucoma? There often is not a first sign, so eye exams are extremely important. Don’t wait to get an eye exam, even if you don’t have symptoms. Come visit our Glaucoma Eye Center at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania for a thorough eye exam so that our expert staff can ensure an early diagnosis and treatment to minimize your vision loss.

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