primary eye care

How Do I Know If I Have Glaucoma?

August 27th, 2021

Senior woman smiling

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the country. It affects millions of people every year. Even scarier than that is that it has no symptoms until it has already damaged your eyesight.

That’s why it’s called the silent thief of sight. It can develop for years before you become aware of it.

And often, when symptoms cause you to go to the eye doctor, you already have irreversible eye damage. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and how you know if you have it.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye condition that increases pressure in your eyes. This intraocular pressure, or IOP, can lead to vision loss without early intervention and treatment.

Glaucoma causes vision loss by damaging your optic nerve, which is necessary for sight. It sends light signals from your retina in the back of your eye to your brain for interpretation.

If glaucoma raises your IOP too high, the pressure presses on your optic nerve. This pressure can damage the optic nerve so much that light signals can no longer travel from your retina to your brain. At this point, you have irreversible vision loss.

Does Glaucoma Have Symptoms?

There are two primary types of glaucoma. There are other types as well, but they occur much less frequently. The main two types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma.

They have different rates of development, and symptoms become apparent at different times. The more common of the two is POAG, and it develops very slowly.

Over time it causes your IOP to rise steadily without presenting any symptoms. Then, when your IOP gets high enough, it damages your optic nerve causing vision loss.

By the time symptoms occur, it is too late. At best, you can slow down the progression of the disease to maintain some eyesight.

Unfortunately, your eyesight cannot return after losing it to glaucoma. And there is no way to stop the progression of the disease completely.

Angle-closure glaucoma does not slowly develop as POAG does. Instead, it occurs as an event that causes rapid vision loss.

Its symptoms are very apparent. They include:

  • Headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye redness
  • Halos around lights

These symptoms come on quickly, and if they do, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Without rapid treatment, angle-closure glaucoma can cause complete vision loss.

Can You Treat Glaucoma?

There is no cure for glaucoma once you have it. But, if you get diagnosed with it during its early stages, your eye doctor can help you treat it.

Glaucoma treatments can delay the progression of the disease and may be able to halt it. Treatments can reduce IOP and keep it low so that you can maintain your eyesight.

That is why regular appointments with your eye doctor are the only way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. During a routine eye exam, your eye doctor checks for glaucoma.

If they detect it, they will run more thorough tests. If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, they’ll begin a treatment protocol right away. The best defense against glaucoma is seeing your eye doctor regularly.

Do you need an eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Vision Care of Maine in Bangor, ME. Ensure you don’t have glaucoma or any other debilitating eye conditions!

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