30 May Glaucoma Symptoms
Glaucoma symptoms aren’t noticeable at first. Which means there are no warning signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. In fact, half the people with glaucoma don’t even know that have it. Depending on what type of glaucoma it is, symptoms can vary. With some forms as the disease progresses, blind spots develop in your side (peripheral) vision. And, with other types of glaucoma, early symptoms can include blurry vision, severe eye pain, headache, nausea, and seeing halos around lights.
Because chronic forms of glaucoma can destroy your vision before any signs or symptoms become apparent, understanding what you can do to prevent it is key. The first step in preventing glaucoma is getting regular eye exams. That’s because they can help detect the disease in its early stages, before significant damage occurs. With this in mind, we offer some insight on what glaucoma is and some prevention tips.
If glaucoma is detected early, vision loss can be slowed or prevented.
What is Glaucoma?
Often referred to as the silent thief of sight, in its early stages, glaucoma is asymptomatic. It is a condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve. The health of which is vital for good vision. The damage is often caused by abnormally high pressure in the eyes. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. As a result of that extra fluid, the pressure in the eye increases, damaging the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can lead to vision loss if not controlled. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60. But, blindness can often be prevented with early treatment. Which is why it is critical to have annual eye exams. Because glaucoma symptoms and signs can vary depending on the type and stage of the condition, it’s important to understand all you can about the disease.
Open-Angle Glaucoma (Chronic)
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type. In fact, open-angle glaucoma accounts for at least 90% of all cases. In this type of glaucoma, the fluid in the front of the eye cannot drain properly causing it to slowly clog. As a result, the pressure in the eye increases. In the front of the eye is a space called the anterior chamber. In this chamber, a clear fluid flows continuously in and out nourishing nearby tissues.
The fluid leaves the chamber at the open angle where the iris meets the cornea. When the fluid reaches the angle, it is supposed to flow through a spongy meshwork, like a drain and leaves the eye. However, in open-angle glaucoma even though the drainage angle is open, the fluid passes too slowly through the drain. Overtime, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that can damage the optic nerve. Which can result in vision loss. For this reason, controlling pressure inside the eye is extremely important!
Closed-Angle Glaucoma (Acute)
Closed-angle glaucoma, which is less common, happens when the iris is very close to the drainage angle in the eye. The fluid at the front of the eye cannot drain through the angle and leave the eye. That’s because the angle gets blocked by part of the iris. Those with this type of glaucoma may have a sudden rise in eye pressure. Symptoms can include severe pain and nausea, as well as redness of the eye and blurred vision. Anyone with these symptoms should get treated immediately this is a medical emergency. That’s because without treatment to restore the flow of fluid, the eye can become blind.
Normal Tension Glaucoma
In normal tension glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged even though the pressure in the eye is not very high. Generally speaking, a normal pressure range is between 12-22 mm. With this type of glaucoma, damage occurs to the optic nerve without eye pressure exceeding the normal range. Normal tension glaucoma is therefore called normal because eye pressure is normal.
People with normal tension glaucoma have eye pressure that is within normal ranges, but show signs of glaucoma such as blind spots in their field of vision and optic nerve damage. Although its causes are not completely understood, normal tension glaucoma is generally believed to occur because of an unusually susceptible optic nerve or reduced blood flow to the optic nerve.
Often referred to as the silent thief of sight, in its early stages, glaucoma is asymptomatic.
A glaucoma suspect is defined as someone who has had at least one of the following findings in at least one eye. Eye pressure is found to be elevated (above normal), there is a strong family history of glaucoma, or the optic nerve appears suspicious. Additionally, someone can be a glaucoma suspect due to the presence of several risk factors. This includes, increasing age, elevated intraocular pressure, ethnic background, family history, corticosteroid use (especially eye drops), and certain eye conditions such as nearsightedness or having a thin cornea.
There is no cure for glaucoma, and vision lost from the disease cannot be restored. For this reason, preventing glaucoma or slowing it down can save your eyesight. Regular eye exams are the best form of prevention against glaucoma damage. Because glaucoma symptoms are not noticeable until vision loss occurs, detecting it early is key. That’s because, early detection and careful, lifelong treatment can maintain vision in most people. Along with getting an annual eye exam, regular exercise and wearing protective eyewear is important. Eye injuries can result in traumatic glaucoma or secondary glaucoma, so protecting your eyes from injury is another way to prevent glaucoma.
Early detection, through regular and comprehensive eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma. Remember, it’s important to take care of your eyes just like you take care of the rest of our body! While you may think your eyes are healthy, getting an annual comprehensive eye exam is the only way to be sure. Protect your vision today by booking your annual dilated comprehensive eye exam. If you need more information on regarding our eye exams or need help booking an appointment, call us at (805) 522-7007 or send us a message.