Glaucoma is an eye disease that is associated with a dangerous build up of internal eye pressure that can severely damage the optic nerve. For the majority of cases, including the most common, open-angle form, there are no discernible glaucoma symptoms until the optic nerve is damaged and a person’s peripheral vision is lost. If it is undiagnosed or left untreated it can eventually lead to blindness.
The most common form, called open-angle glaucoma, initially has no visible symptoms. The pressure in the eye builds up gradually and then at some point the optic nerve comes damaged enough to cause peripheral vision loss. Similarly, people with normal-tension glaucoma will not experience any symptoms until they begin to lose peripheral vision.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is the result of a sudden blockage in the normal flow of eye fluid (aqueous humour) between the iris and the lens. In this case, symptoms might include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and seeing a rainbow halo around lights. This type of glaucoma is a medical emergency that has to be treated immediately or blindness could result in only one or two days. Angle-closure glaucoma progresses at a much slower rate and can damage the optic nerve without symptoms.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. As many as half of the individuals with glaucoma, however, may not know that they have the disease. It is also this invisibility that makes it imperative for people to have their eyes examined regularly for glaucoma or other diseases that have serious complications or cause damage. Although nerve damage and visual loss from glaucoma cannot usually be reversed, glaucoma is a disease that can generally be controlled. Treatment can make the intraocular pressure normal and help to prevent or stop further nerve damage and visual loss. Treatment may involve the use of eye drops, pills (rarely), laser ,or surgery.
Depending on what stage your are through early detection rather than late stage glaucoma symptoms, your doctor will determine your best treatment. Because glaucoma is often painless and invisible, people may become careless about adhering to their use of eye drops or other treatments. It is important to stick to your treatment plan to control eye pressure and prevent permanent vision loss or blindness in the future.