Glaucoma is a complicated disease
in which damage to the optic nerve results in vision loss.
There are several forms of glaucoma; the two most common
forms are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and
angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). Open-angle glaucoma is often
called "the sneak thief of sight" because it has no symptoms
until significant vision loss has occurred.
Symptoms of Open-Angle Glaucoma
There are typically no early warning signs or symptoms of
open-angle glaucoma. It develops slowly and sometimes
without noticeable sight loss for many years.
Most people who have open-angle glaucoma feel fine and do
not notice a change in their vision at first because the
initial loss of vision is of side or peripheral vision, and
the visual acuity or sharpness of vision is maintained until
late in the disease.
By the time a patient is aware of vision loss, the disease
is usually quite advanced. Vision loss from glaucoma is not
reversible with treatment, even with surgery.
Because open-angle glaucoma has few warning signs or
symptoms before damage has occurred, it is important to see
a doctor for regular eye examinations. If glaucoma is
detected during an eye exam, your eye doctor can prescribe a
preventative treatment to help protect your vision.
In open-angle glaucoma, the angle in your eye where the iris
meets the cornea is as wide and open as it should be, but
the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time, causing
an increase in internal eye pressure and subsequent damage
to the optic nerve. It is the most common type of glaucoma,
affecting about four million Americans, many of whom do not
know they have the disease.
You are at increased risk of glaucoma if your parents or
siblings have the disease, if you are African-American or
Latino, and possibly if you are diabetic or have
cardiovascular disease. The risk of glaucoma also increases
Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Hazy or
appearance of rainbow-colored circles around bright
eye and head pain
or vomiting (accompanying severe eye pain)
glaucoma is caused by blocked drainage canals in the eye,
resulting in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure. This is
a much more
rare form of glaucoma, which develops very quickly and
demands immediate medical attention.
In contrast with open-angle glaucoma, symptoms of acute
angle-closure glaucoma are very noticeable and damage occurs
quickly. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek
immediate care from an ophthalmologist.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, it is important to set a
regular schedule of examinations with your eye doctor to
monitor your condition and make sure that your prescribed
treatment is effectively maintaining a safe eye pressure.