7 Emergency Symptoms Of Glaucoma And Important Information About This Condition

Lifestyle & Health

When we have good vision, we tend to take it for granted. But our eyes are a very sensitive organ, and the eyesight can deteriorate with age and under the influence of other factors. Sometimes, it's possible to do everything right to protect your vision, but it can still get worse for unknown reasons. What you can do to keep one of your senses sharp is to have regular eye exams to detect the problem in time if there is any.

One of such conditions that can gradually damage your eyes and remain silent until it's too late is glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition in which your optic nerve becomes damaged, and it leads to a partial vision loss or even blindness. Glaucoma usually develops when intraocular pressure (the pressure inside the eye/eyes) is increased, although it may be caused by other factors. The condition usually affects both eyes and may be worse in one eye than in the other. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 2.7 million Americans who are older than 40 have glaucoma.

Early detection and proper treatment of glaucoma can prevent further damage to the optic nerve or at least slow it down.

What are the types of glaucoma?

The United Kingdom’s NHS lists the following types of glaucoma:

  • primary open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type and usually develops gradually over the years;
  • primary angle-closure glaucoma, which is less common and can develop either suddenly or gradually;
  • secondary glaucoma, which is caused by an underlying eye condition, e.g., uveitis;
  • normal tension glaucoma, when the pressure inside the eye is normal;
  • congenital glaucoma, which is uncommon and is caused by an inborn defect of the eye.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma is called the "sneak thief of vision" because it may show no symptoms until the optic nerve is badly damaged.

In some cases, symptoms of glaucoma develop suddenly and require immediate medical attention. Such symptoms include:

  • eye pain;
  • headache;
  • a red eye;
  • tenderness around the eyes;
  • distorted vision;
  • seeing halos around lights;
  • nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms described above are an emergency. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms. If your vision is getting worse, don’t drive yourself to the ER, ask someone to take you there.

Who is at a higher risk of developing glaucoma?

Unfortunately, anyone can develop glaucoma, but there are some factors that increase your risk. They include the following:

  • being older than 45 – the risk of glaucoma rises as you age;
  • a family history of glaucoma;
  • being farsighted or nearsighted;
  • being of African-American, Hispanic, Japanese, Irish, Scandinavian, Russian, or Inuit descent;
  • having diabetes;
  • long-term use of steroid medications;
  • a history of trauma to the eye.

If you’re at an increased risk of glaucoma, you may need to have eye exams more often than once a year.

Is there a way to prevent glaucoma?

There’s no known way to prevent the condition and the damage to the optic nerve is irreversible. Having regular eye exams is important even if nothing is wrong with your vision because the problem may be present but show no perceptible signs for quite some time.

You should also follow some recommendations for taking care of your health:

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Source: NEI, NHS UK, American Academy of Ophtalmology, WebMD, MedicineNet

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.