According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 3 million women and men in the United States have glaucoma, but only half of them are aware of it. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage or destroy your optic nerve, often due to excess pressure within the eyeball. Glaucoma can start at any age, but it often affects older adults.
Glaucoma worsens over time if it isn’t treated, which is why screening for glaucoma is imperative for preserving your eye health, particularly as you age. Glaucoma comes in several types, not all of which involve pressure buildup in the eye:
No matter what type of glaucoma you have, you may not notice that your vision is under threat until it’s too late. Once you lose your vision, it can’t be restored.
Expert ophthalmologist John Ghobrial, MD, screens for, diagnoses, and treats glaucoma at Eye Associates of Monmouth in Colts Neck, New Jersey. In addition to your annual screening, prevention involves paying attention to changes in your eyes and vision that could indicate you have glaucoma.
Watch for these five signs:
Every time you come in for an eye exam, Dr. Ghobrial checks the extent of your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is being able to see objects or movement at the sides of your head or on the bridge of your nose, even when you’re looking straight ahead.
As with many symptoms of glaucoma, loss of peripheral vision can be so gradual that you don't notice it. However, if you’re frequently surprised by people or objects appearing in front of you or if you must turn your head frequently to know what’s happening around you, you may be losing your peripheral vision.
Peripheral vision loss usually occurs first. Without treatment, blindness extends to your central vision, too.
Stay alert to other changes in your vision. Some signs that you may have glaucoma that affects your central vision include:
Once you start to lose vision with glaucoma, it can’t be restored. However, when you seek treatment, we can slow the progression to prevent further vision loss.
Many different conditions can cause you to have red eyes, including glaucoma. If one of your eyes is consistently red, or if you feel pain in one or both eyes, be sure to get an accurate diagnosis.
Eye pain could be a sign of acute closed-angle glaucoma, which can cause rapid-onset blindness if you don’t get treatment. Symptoms of this condition include:
If you have symptoms of acute closed-angle glaucoma, get to the emergency room right away. Without treatment, you could permanently lose your vision.
When your eyes don’t function well, it can throw off other organs and systems as well, including your brain and your inner ear. Eyes that send confusing information to your brain may make you feel dizzy and nauseated.
If you have vision changes accompanied by nausea or vomiting, get to the nearest emergency room. You may have acute closed-angle glaucoma, which can cause blindness without immediate treatment.
Although it’s rarer, infants and children can also develop glaucoma. Certain ethnicities — such as African, Asian, and Hispanic — are more at risk. Be sure to let us know if your baby or child:
As with adults, you should always seek a diagnosis when you notice changes to children’s vision, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The sooner treatment starts, the more vision can be preserved.
Get your eyes checked for glaucoma by scheduling an eye exam with us today. Contact our friendly team by phone, or book an appointment online.