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Glaucoma — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of this eye condition that threatens vision.
Glaucoma is not just one disease, but a group of conditions resulting in optic nerve damage, which diminishes sight. Abnormally high pressure inside your eye (intraocular pressure) usually, but not always, causes this damage.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Sometimes called the silent thief of sight, glaucoma can damage your vision so gradually you don't notice any loss of vision until the disease is at an advanced stage. The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, has no noticeable signs or symptoms except gradual vision loss.
Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize or prevent optic nerve damage and limit glaucoma-related vision loss. It's important to get your eyes examined regularly, and make sure your eye doctor measures your intraocular pressure.
The most common types of glaucoma — primary open-angle glaucoma and acute angle-closure glaucoma — have completely different symptoms.
Primary open-angle glaucoma signs and symptoms include:
Gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes
Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma signs and symptoms include:
Severe eye pain
Nausea and vomiting (accompanying the severe eye pain)
Sudden onset of visual disturbance, often in low light
Halos around lights
Reddening of the eye
When to see a doctor Don't wait for noticeable eye problems. Primary open-angle glaucoma gives few warning signs or symptoms until permanent damage has already occurred. Regular eye exams are the key to detecting glaucoma early enough for successful preventive treatment.