Eye diseases are sometimes unavoidable, and no matter how well we take care of ourselves through diet and exercise, we can all end up developing certain conditions due to the natural aging process. One of these diseases is called glaucoma, and if left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. However, glaucoma is manageable and can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed early on. Let’s explore what this disease looks like and uncover more details about it.
Types Of Glaucoma
There are two types of glaucoma, and while both are serious conditions that should be addressed with your ophthalmologist, they do entail different symptoms and work in slightly different ways. The most common form is called primary open-angle glaucoma and occurs when the eye has issues draining normally. This results in fluid build-up which increases eye pressure, and over time, this pressure can damage the optic nerve. In most cases, this form of glaucoma begins without any pain or symptoms but can lead to permanent vision loss if untreated.
A more serious form of this disease is called closed-angle or narrow-angle glaucoma, and it can come on suddenly. When one’s iris is close to the drainage angle of the eye, it can actually slide over and cause a blockage. This leads to pressure building up quickly and could result in blindness if left untreated.
Symptoms To Watch For
Depending on the type of glaucoma that develops, some patients do not notice any symptoms at all until their vision begins to change. Individuals may notice blurry spots in their periphery and that is often the first indication of any issues. It’s recommended that you visit your ophthalmologist regularly so that if you do develop glaucoma, it can be detected before the optic nerve becomes affected.
The symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma are far more distinct and if you begin to notice these changes, seek immediate medical care:
- Seeing rainbows or halos
- Sudden decrease in vision or sudden blurriness
- Severe eye or forehead pain
- Eye redness
- Headache, nausea, or vomiting
Diagnosing And Treating Glaucoma
Often times changes in one’s vision prompt a visit to the Carolinas Centers For Sight, PC., and during a complete exam, your provider will look for indications of glaucoma. Some of the tests that he or she may conduct include measuring your eye pressure, testing your peripheral vision, measuring the thickness of your cornea, and inspecting your optic nerve. Glaucoma can only be diagnosed by a medical professional, so it’s important to see your ophthalmologist regularly.
While the damage done to your optic nerve is permanent, it’s important to remember that ongoing treatment and care is necessary to regulate your eye pressure and ensure you do not experience further vision loss. Depending on your unique circumstances, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops for you to use every day. While various prescriptions work to treat glaucoma in different ways, it’s important to discuss all of your options with your provider, as this medication could entail a range of side effects.
Depending on the type of glaucoma you have been diagnosed with, several surgical options may also be an option. A trabeculoplasty helps your eye to drain better on its own while an iridotomy is only for those with angle-closure glaucoma and creates a small hole in the iris to help with drainage. Other more complex procedures may also be recommended for you, including a stent implant which helps your eye to drain or a trabeculectomy, an operation intended to create a new channel for fluid to travel through.
Ultimately, glaucoma is a disease that many individuals will develop at some point in their lifetime, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms before you permanently lose your vision. Make sure to see your ophthalmologist regularly, and if you are diagnosed with the condition, speak with your provider about all of your treatment options.