Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which improperly drained eye fluid exerts pressure on the optic nerve, leading to partial or complete vision loss. The two most common types of glaucoma are open-angle and angle-closure. The effects of glaucoma on the visual field can be numerous, although open-angle glaucoma is usually characterized by the gradual narrowing of the visual field, while angle-closure glaucoma may cause blurred or haloed vision. Early detection and intervention are critical to reducing the destructive effects of glaucoma on the visual field.
The form of glaucoma known as open-angle occurs when the eye’s drainage system is partially blocked. As a result of this blockage, the fluid that is naturally produced at the rear of the eye cannot drain at an adequate speed, causing pressure on the optic nerve. The effects of open-angle glaucoma on the visual field usually emerge over a period of many months or even years. In many cases, the visual field becomes progressively narrower until the peripheral vision has disappeared fully. Some individuals with open-angle glaucoma may eventually suffer complete vision loss.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage system is completely blocked and therefore unable to release any eye fluid. This type of blockage usually occurs suddenly, and thus the effects of angle-closure glaucoma on the visual field tend to emerge much more rapidly than those which characterize open-angle glaucoma. Most common among these effects are blurred vision and the detection of misty, halo-like rings around lights. Often, the effects of this type of glaucoma on the visual field are accompanied by eye pain and nausea. To reduce the chances of severe and lasting eye damage, those who suspect angle-closure glaucoma should consult a physician immediately.
While health experts do not yet fully understand what causes the eye blockage which leads to glaucoma and have not established a cure for the condition, it can be managed through the use of medications. If it is detected and treated soon after it first develops, sufferers may be able to avoid the usual effects of glaucoma on the visual field. Even those who have already begun to experience vision deterioration may be able to slow this process through treatment with medication or, in some cases, surgery. For the best chance of preserving the vision, however, early detection of glaucoma is crucial. Therefore, it is a good idea to schedule regular checkups with an optometrist.