How to Recognize the Early Warning Signs of Glaucoma

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Because symptoms of glaucoma usually do not show until the latter stages of the disease, regular eye exams are needed to detect the condition it its earliest phases. Symptoms can also differ depending on the type of glaucoma. If you are diabetic, are nearsighted or farsighted, or have a family history of glaucoma, you are at higher risk for the condition and should have an eye examination at least every two years. Although there is no cure, if diagnosed early, proper treatment can slow or stop the progress of the disease.

Schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist if you notice blind spots outside your field of vision, even if you can see well when looking straight ahead. This may be a sign of open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease. In the early stages, a person begins to lose his or her peripheral vision. However, damage is irreversible, and if left untreated, can result in total loss of vision.

Seek medical help immediately if you experience a headache and severe eye pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, colored halos and blurred vision. If not treated within hours of the onset of symptoms, acute closed-angle glaucoma can progress quickly, resulting in permanent vision loss.

Talk to your doctor if you suffer from low blood pressure. More common in women than in men, and in individuals older than age 60, low-tension glaucoma causes optic nerve damage, which can affect peripheral vision.

Consult a pediatric optician if your child is sensitive to light, has watery eyes, an eye that looks cloudy, or one eye that looks larger than the other because of increased pressure in the eye. Congenital glaucoma occurs more often in boys than in girls.

Tips & Warnings

  • Elevated pressure in the eye, often associated with glaucoma can damage the optic nerve, which transmits electrical impulses to the brain. It is estimated that more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma. Loss of vision due to glaucoma cannot be reversed, but if diagnosed early enough, the condition can be controlled with medication and sometimes surgery. Treatment focuses on normalizing intraocular pressure, preventing further nerve damage and vision loss.

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