Glaucoma is a fairly common eye condition in which the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain becomes damaged. This damage occurs because of an accumulation of pressure inside the eye. If glaucoma isn’t diagnosed and treated fairly quickly, it can lead to vision loss and unfortunately, any vision that is lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored.
There are various types of glaucoma. The most common is known as open-angle glaucoma and develops very slowly over many years. This type of glaucoma occurs because the drainage channels that usually enable liquid to leave the eye become clogged and ineffective. This causes a gentle increase in the amount of pressure inside the eye, which will over time start to cause damage to the optic nerve.
Another type of glaucoma is known as acute, closed-angle glaucoma. It is rare and happens suddenly, causing the pressure to reach unbearable levels very quickly, and immediate treatment is needed to prevent significant sight loss. In addition to these, there is also secondary glaucoma, which is caused by an underlying eye condition such as uveitis, or childhood glaucoma.
Although glaucoma can occur at any age, it is most commonly seen in older patients in their 70s and 80s. You are also at particular risk of glaucoma if you:
Have very severe nearsightedness (myopia)
Have high blood pressure
Use corticosteroid medication
Have recently had an injury to the eye, or needed eye surgery
Glaucoma is often considered a silent disease since the most common form of the condition develops extremely slowly, making it fairly difficult to identify any symptoms until there has already been some damage to your vision. However, there are symptoms associated with each glaucoma, and these can vary depending on the specific type that you are experiencing.
Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms of glaucoma in the primary types of the condition.
The main symptom associated with open-angle glaucoma is patchy blind spots in your peripheral or central vision. One eye may be affected, or you may have the same symptoms in both, but the condition can progress at different rates.
Closed-angle glaucoma is fairly rare, and if it occurs, the symptoms can come on extremely quickly and include the following:
Severe eye pain
Nausea and vomiting that accompany the severe eye pain
Halos around lights
Sudden vision loss
If you experience these symptoms, it is essential that you make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as you can so that your vision can be assessed. It may not be acute closed-angle glaucoma, but early identification and diagnosis can prevent any further damage to your vision.
Although it isn’t possible to reverse any lost vision that has occurred due to glaucoma, there are treatments that can prevent your vision from getting any worse. Which treatment you will be recommended will be based on the type of glaucoma that you have and your medical history but could potentially include:
Eyedrops that work by reducing the pressure inside your eyes.
Laser treatment that focuses on unblocking the drainage channels inside your eyes so that the pressure is reduced. Laser treatment is nearly always the first thing recommended to patients with acute closed-angle glaucoma.
Surgery, which is intended to improve the way in which fluids drains from the eye, thus keeping the pressure under control.
For more information about glaucoma, including the symptoms associated with the disease, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert eye care team.