Glaucoma is the name for a group of diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness due to a damaged optic nerve.
The best way to find glaucoma is to visit an eye doctor and have a comprehensive eye exam. Eyedrops and other treatments can help prevent the onset of the condition. Regular eye visits are important because glaucoma may not initially have any symptoms. There may be no pain or loss of vision if the condition stays untreated. After more time passes, tunnel vision or a complete loss of vision may occur.
People with glaucoma may not experience any symptoms at first. There are different kinds of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma — the most common type of glaucoma — has these symptoms:
- Blind spots in your side vision, or in your forward vision
- Tunnel vision, when the condition grows more advanced
Another type of glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma, has more serious symptoms that can include:
- Severe headaches
- Pain in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Redness in the eyes
- Halos around lights
- Eventual blindness
If you experience these symptoms you should get to the doctor as soon as possible.
Glaucoma can be diagnosed using a variety of tests including:
- Visual acuity test. In this test, your doctor will ask you to read letters on an eye chart to check your vision.
- Dilated eye exam. Eye drops are placed in your eyes to make the pupils larger. A magnifying glass can then be used to look inside your eye and check for signs of damage.
- Visual field test. This test checks your side vision for signs of vision loss.
- Tonometry. This test checks to see if the pressure in your eyes is normal.
- Pachymetry. This test measures your cornea to see how thick it is.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but treatment can slow the condition down and prevent further loss of vision. Treatment methods include:
- Medication. Medicines for glaucoma are given as eyedrops or taken by mouth. The eyedrops lower the pressure in the eyes, and the pills can help the eye make less fluid. This also lowers eye pressure. It’s important to keep taking these medicines even though you aren’t experiencing the symptoms of glaucoma.
- Laser trabeculoplasty. This treatment helps get fluid out of your eye that’s causing too much pressure. This procedure is done at the eye clinic or at the doctor’s office. Laser surgery can help many people, but the good it does can wear off. You may need to schedule another procedure to keep the eye pressure down.
- Surgery. Surgery can be done in an operating room to drain fluid from the eye and relieve pressure. This type of surgery may have some side effects, including cataracts, other cornea problems, or an eye infection. It works best if you haven’t had any other kind of eye surgery. The surgery is only done on one eye at a time.