Many people wish there were symptoms of glaucoma, especially in its early stages, since it would be easier to detect and thus begin early treatment. Unfortunately, glaucoma, which is caused by too much pressure in the internal part of the eye, rarely exhibits symptoms until damage to the eyes has already occurred. This makes getting regular eye exams exceptionally important. Early treatment can help forestall or eliminate damage to the eyes, and in many cases prevent people from the worst possible results of glaucoma, which include total blindness.
The earliest symptoms of glaucoma that may be noticed by people are slightly decreased peripheral vision. Sometimes the changes occur so gradually that people don’t even notice this. As the pressure in the eyes, called intraocular pressure (IOP), continues to damage optic nerves, people cannot avoid noticing that their peripheral vision is becoming severely affected.
There are several different types of glaucoma, with the two main ones, open angle glaucoma, and acute angle-closure glaucoma, diagnosed by the angles of the internal eye structures and how these angles drain fluids. In most cases, symptoms of glaucoma like loss of peripheral vision are due to open angle glaucoma. As mentioned, these may be so slight at first that they are not perceived. There’s an estimated half of the American public with the condition who are unaware they have it.
Angle-closure glaucoma produces quite different symptoms. These include the following:
- Pain in the eyes
- Seeing halos around lights
- Redness of the eyes and/or pupil dilation
- Vision loss
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Most of these symptoms are transient and pass within a few hours. People may mistake them for migraines because of the nausea and headaches they cause. The primary difference is vision loss, which does not occur with migraines. Although with a migraine it may be painful to look at things, your vision tends not to be significantly obstructed or blurred.
Unlike open angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is extremely serious and constitutes a medical emergency. If you notice these symptoms of glaucoma, you need to seek treatment right away. One episode of open angle glaucoma, caused by abnormally high intraocular pressure, can permanently damage vision, and pressure must be reduced immediately in order to save the eyes from damage.
It cannot be stressed enough that people need yearly exams to rule out glaucoma, and should seek emergency treatment if they notice symptoms of glaucoma consistent with angle-closure types. Glaucoma is a condition that can be treated, especially when caught in its early stages. Often, the only way to determine whether the condition is present is through eye examinations. Once symptoms of glaucoma are noticeable, particularly of open angle glaucoma, damage to the optic nerves has already occurred.