What Is Glaucoma?
What Causes Glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people, however, are more susceptible than others. Listed below are groups of people at higher risk:
- Some individuals over age 40
- Everyone over age 60
- People with a family history of glaucoma
A comprehensive eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, corneal thinning, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy.
What Are The Symptoms of Glaucoma?
For most people, there are usually few or no symptoms of glaucoma. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision, which can go unnoticed until late in the disease. This is why glaucoma is often called the silent thief or sneak thief of vision.
Symptoms may vary depending on the stage of the condition. Open angle glaucoma symptoms may include the following:
- Blind spots in your peripheral (or side) or central vision, in one or both eyes
- Tunnel vision
Closed angle glaucoma symptoms may include the following:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Seeing halos around lights
- Suddenly decreased vision
- Redness in the eye
- Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in the eye
- Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)
Acute closed angle glaucoma is a medical emergency. If you are experiencing acute closed angle glaucoma symptoms such as severe headache, eye pain, and blurred vision, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Images courtesy of National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
How Do We Diagnose Glaucoma?
To diagnose glaucoma, an eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes. The eye exam typically focuses on the optic nerve, which has a particular appearance in glaucoma. Photographs of the optic nerve using equipment such as our Optos optomap® and VISUCAM® can often be very helpful. Glaucoma tests are quick and painless.
Some of the tests our optometrist will perform include the following:
Visual acuity test – This eye test measures how well you see at various distances.
Visual field test – This test measures your peripheral (side vision). Lost peripheral vision is an indicator of glaucoma.
Dilated eye exam – In this exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate the pupils so more of your eye can be examined. Optometrists use a special magnifying lens to look at your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems.
Tonometry – is the measurement of pressure inside the eye by using an instrument called a tonometer.
Pachymetry – Our optometrists use an ultrasonic wave instrument to measure the thickness of your cornea.
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Your health is important. See our optometrists for an annual eye exam.