Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness affecting millions of Americans over the age of 35. Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” by eye care professionals because the disease typically has no symptoms until irreversible damage to your eyesight has occurred. It is estimated that half of the population with Glaucoma are not even aware that they have this vision threatening disease.
“Loss of vision from Glaucoma can usually be prevented with early detection and proper treatment. That is why regular eye health examinations for those who are at risk are so important,” says Dr. Christopher Larson.
Glaucoma is a condition where elevated pressure inside the eye causes damage to the optic nerve. In the front of the eye, there is an area called the anterior chamber. Normally, clear fluid flows in and out of this chamber. Patients who have been diagnosed with glaucoma experience an increase in eye pressure when the passages that normally allow the fluid to drain become blocked. No one is sure why this happens but unless the pressure is controlled, permanent vision loss occurs.
Vision loss usually occurs first in the peripheral area, or side vision, progressing towards the central area of the visual field. This can create what is known as “tunnel” vision in patients with advanced glaucoma. Without treatment, glaucoma will continue to progress, affecting both side and central vision, and eventually cause blindness. At first, there are no symptoms, but as the disease progresses a person with glaucoma may notice his or her vision gradually failing.
A rarer form of glaucoma, known as acute glaucoma, develops rapidly and its symptoms include pain, blurred vision, loss of side vision, seeing halos or colored rings around lights and pain or redness in one or both eyes.