a couple sitting together outside understanding the causes and symptoms of glaucoma

What are the Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, which is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. The damage to the optic nerve is usually caused by too much pressure inside your eye, usually due to a buildup of fluid.

Some forms of glaucoma have virtually no symptoms until the condition is advanced in the form of vision loss. Once vision loss from glaucoma occurs, it cannot be recovered. That’s why it’s vital to schedule regular eye exams with your eye doctor to measure your eye pressure so glaucoma can be caught in the early stages before full vision loss occurs. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, a treatment plan will be set by your eye doctor to help manage the condition.

What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Since glaucoma comes in many forms, the symptoms of glaucoma may vary based on what type of glaucoma you have and how advanced it is. Still, some symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Patchy blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, frequently in both eyes
  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
  • Severe headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma occurs when elevated eye pressure damages the optic nerve. As the nerve deteriorates, blind spots may develop in your field of vision. The increased eye pressure is due to the buildup of fluid in the eye, which may be caused by overproduction of fluid or the inability of the fluid to drain properly. 

Glaucoma does tend to run in families and likely has a genetic component. Other common risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Having high internal eye pressure
  • Being over age 60
  • Being African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or sickle cell anemia
  • Having corneas that are thin in the center
  • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted
  • Having had an eye injury or certain types of eye surgery
  • Taking corticosteroid medications, especially eyedrops, for a long time

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Your eye doctor will review your medical history and perform a complete eye exam to determine if you have glaucoma and the type of the eye condition you are suffering from. The eye exam may include a number of tests as follows:

  • Tonometry test – this test, in which an instrument gently touches the surface of the cornea or blows a puff of air onto the cornea, is used to measure interocular pressure.
  • Dilation and imaging – the eyes are dilated with drops so the optic nerve can be easily seen and inspected for damage.
  • Visual field test – this test checks to see if you have any loss of peripheral vision.
  • Pachymetry test – this is a quick and painless test to measure the thickness of your cornea.
  • Gonioscopy – this is a painless exam to check the eye’s drainage angle to see how well fluid is draining from the eye.

Upon completion of these tests your eye doctor will be able to determine if you have glaucoma, the type you are suffering from and the best treatment methods. Learn about the different Types of Glaucoma.

How is Glaucoma Treated?

Glaucoma is normally treated with a regimen of eye drops to help keep the pressure in your eyes at a normal level. When drops are not sufficient or a patient has a hard time complying with the regimen, there have been great advancements in minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries.  Dr. Tyson and Dr. Stephens have extensive clinical and surgical experience managing glaucoma.

Additional surgical procedures that can help treat glaucoma include Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT), Endoscopic Cyclophotocoagulation (ECP), and Laser iridotomy (used in medical emergencies).

Come See Us

The most important thing you can do to prevent glaucoma is to be sure to visit your eye doctor for a yearly, comprehensive eye exam and schedule an appointment right away if you are having any problems with your vision.

Tyson Eye is regarded as one of the premier eye care centers in Southwest Florida. Our surgeons and doctors have helped thousands of people enjoy better vision and have consistently introduced break-through technology to the area. Tyson Eye is committed to excellence by delivering modern technology with old fashioned concern.

If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma or are experiencing symptoms, we’re here for you.  Contact us for a free consultation today or call 239-542-2020.