Does Glaucoma Have Any Warning Signs?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on March 31, 2022

Although certain factors can make someone higher risk for glaucoma, it is something that everyone should be routinely checked for. Once it develops, glaucoma will slowly progress if left untreated, causing slow permanent vision loss. 

The progress of the condition is often so gradual that vision loss goes unnoticed, giving glaucoma the morbid nickname “the silent thief of sight.” Keep reading to learn if glaucoma has any warning signs!

How Do Eye Doctors Find Glaucoma?

At your routine eye exam, your eye doctor does a thorough examination of your eyes. Your eye doctor will look for specific signs of many eye conditions during this process, including glaucoma.

Your eye doctor will take a measurement called tonometry, which tests the internal pressure of your eye. An eye pressure that is higher than the normal range is one of the key identifiers of glaucoma.

Your eye doctor will compare the numbers of your tonometry readings to readings taken during previous examinations if they are available. By doing this, your eye doctor can determine if your eye pressure is increasing over time. 

Your eyes are constantly creating fluid. When this fluid reaches the end of its cycle, it exits the eye through a mesh drainage system. 

If the drainage channel becomes clogged or blocked, it will slow down the fluid draining from the eye. Your eyes cannot detect this shift in pressure, so the fluid continues to be made. 

Eventually, the pressure becomes strong enough to cause damage, specifically to the optic nerve located at the back of the eye. Most types of glaucoma often do not show any symptoms, except for slowly waning eyesight. 

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. In open-angle glaucoma, the angle of the eye, the space the fluid must move through before entering the mesh drainage system, is wide open. 

Although the angle is wide in open-angle glaucoma, the meshwork is partially blocked, causing a gradual increase in eye pressure. 

Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

Narrow-angle glaucoma is caused by a narrowing of the space known as the angle of the eye. The fluid must go through this angle before reaching the meshwork, and if the angle is narrow, the fluid slows as it exits the eye.

Narrow-angle glaucoma can cause a gradual increase in eye pressure since the fluid cannot exit the eye quickly.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

If glaucoma results from a relatively sudden partial blockage of the drainage system in the eye, there can be a sharp spike in eye pressure. This type of glaucoma is called angle-closure.

Angle-closure glaucoma can produce several symptoms, including:

Angle-closure glaucoma can cause permanent vision damage quicker than other types of glaucoma. Fortunately, angle-closure glaucoma is not as common. 

Angle-closure glaucoma can be a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate treatment if you experience the symptoms listed above.   

Treating Glaucoma

The first method used to treat glaucoma is often prescription eye drops. Glaucoma drops work either by increasing the outflow of the fluid or by slowing the production of the fluid. 

In some cases, a combination of the two types of drops is used. Glaucoma drops must be used consistently and diligently to effectively lower eye pressure. 

When eye drops do not work as intended, your eye doctor may recommend surgery or a laser procedure in more severe cases. The goal of all glaucoma treatments is to manage eye pressure and preserve eyesight.

Are you interested in learning more about glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Missouri Eye Institute in Springfield, MO, today!


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