WHAT DOES GLAUCOMA DO TO YOUR EYES?
In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canals are blocked, causing fluid to back up in the eye and resulting in a sudden increase in pressure inside the eye. In open-angle glaucoma, the angle where the cornea and iris meet is wide enough to allow fluid to pass into the canal, and the increase in pressure occurs over a much longer timeline.
In both cases, as fluid builds up in the eye, the increased pressure can damage the retina, causing permanent vision loss. Treatment options include prescription eye drops, oral medication, and surgery. If treatment is administered in a timely fashion, you can avoid retinal damage and vision loss.
Open-angle glaucoma is sometimes referred to as the “sneak thief of sight,” because it is not painful, and does not cause sudden vision loss or impairment. In fact, you could go for years without even noticing the loss of vision in your periphery.
Patients who do not make regular appointments with their ophthalmologists often don’t realize that they have glaucoma until the very late stages, when visual acuity and sharpness finally begin to deteriorate. However, though you may not be able to detect a change in your vision, your ophthalmologist can detect and diagnose open-angle glaucoma in a complete, routine eye exam.
Getting your eyes checked at least every two years can prevent major vision loss due to open-angle glaucoma, as your ophthalmologist can prescribe effective treatments to slow the process down and prevent further vision loss. As with any medical disorder, the earlier your doctor can diagnose it, the more effective treatment will be.
Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, does have very noticeable and painful symptoms. If you experience any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist as soon as possible, as you may have angle-closure glaucoma:
- Severe headaches, especially with pain directly behind or in the eyes
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blurred, hazy vision
- Rainbow auras around light sources
- Sudden vision loss
While you can detect angle-closure glaucoma on your own much more easily than open-angle glaucoma, it also causes damage much faster. If you ignore symptoms and hope they go away on their own — for example, if you assume that you just have a migraine — you could lose vision in one or both eyes permanently.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR OPHTHALMOLOGIST
With open-angle glaucoma, you most likely won’t have any idea that you have the condition until your ophthalmologist diagnoses you. After diagnosis, make regular appointments with your ophthalmologist as regularly as he or she recommends. This could be once per year, once every six months, or more frequently until necessary treatment can be determined.
On the other hand, with angle-closure glaucoma, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. You have a much shorter timeline for diagnosis and treatment to avoid vision loss or impairment. If you’ve been experiencing any of the above symptoms, or it’s been over two years since your last eye appointment, call your eye doctor today. Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam.