According to the American Optometric Association (2014), glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of blindness in the United States. This eye condition typically arises after the age of 40; however, you can develop infantile or congenital glaucoma earlier or later. Your risk of developing this condition is higher, if you have a family history of glaucoma, are African-American over the age of 40, or Hispanic and over the age of 60 (American Optometric Association, 2014).
What is glaucoma? Well, glaucoma is a progressive eye condition that damages your optic nerve (a bundle of nerve fibers that transmit electrical transmissions (signals/messages) from your eye to your brain). When your optic nerve is damaged, it typically leads to a loss of vision, and/or blindness, in severe cases. The most common type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma (a type of glaucoma that occurs when the fluid pressure within your eye increases).
Too much pressure in your eye, over time, can progressively damage your optic nerve, resulting in optic nerve damage, a loss of nerve fibers, and/or temporary or permanent vision loss. In addition, if your condition has reached the advanced stage, it could cause you to experience permanent blindness. It is important to note that you may not experience any noticeable symptoms until the disease has significantly damaged your optic nerve.
Fortunately, there are ways to recognize, if you have glaucoma. It is important to contact an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) as soon as possible, if you suspect that you may have this condition. If you are wondering how to tell if you have glaucoma, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you the early warning signs of glaucoma so that you can seek the appropriate treatment.
Listed below are questions that can help you determine if you are at-risk for glaucoma:
Are having problems adjusting your eye(s) to different lights or environments?
If you are having a hard time adjusting one or more of your eyes to see in various lights, and/or environments (i.e. dark and/or brightly lit atmospheres), you may be at-risk for glaucoma. Moreover, if you are able to adjust to different lights and environments, but it takes your eye(s) a long time to focus, you may also be at-risk for glaucoma. A hypersensitivity to bright lights, along with constant squinting, and/or blinking can signal the beginning stages of glaucoma.
Does your eye(s) look different?
Have you looked at your eyes lately? If not, it may be time to take a look. Do you notice any change in the physical appearance of one or more of your eye(s)? If so, you may be at-risk for glaucoma. This is especially true, if your eyelid(s) are red, crusty, and swollen, and/or there is a noticeable difference in your eye color. These symptoms are normally accompanied by eye and facial pain.
Does your eye(s) feel different?
Does your eye(s) feel different? Are you experiencing pain, discomfort, and/or an odd sensation in, or around your eyes? If so, you may be at-risk for glaucoma. In addition, a common early sign of glaucoma, is excessively watery eyes. In other words, if your eyes constantly “tear up,” you may have glaucoma. This is especially true, if the watering has been occurring for more than a few days. On the other hand, you can still have glaucoma, if your eye(s) are continuously itchy, dry, and/or scratchy.
Have you ever experienced a loss of vision?
Are your prone to visual complications (i.e. vision loss or disturbances)? Have these complications recently returned? If so, you may need to contact an ophthalmologist for an eye evaluation. Visual complications (i.e. a loss of vision, distorted vision, etc.) are early warning signs of glaucoma. Moreover, these complications can signal an advanced stage of glaucoma (irreversible damage). Glaucoma-related visual complications may include: temporary or permanent vision loss, visual distortions, blindness, dark spots in the middle of your view, distorted/wavy lines, and/or ghost-like images.
If you experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both of your eyes, contact an ophthalmologist, as soon as possible. In addition, if you experience total blindness that appears out of the blue, call 911, or seek emergency treatment at your local hospital. A severe complication of advanced-stage glaucoma is permanent vision loss and blindness. Moreover, a sudden onset of blurry vision, bright spots of light, and/or halos, should be immediately evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
American Optometric Association. (2014). Glaucoma. Retrieved from http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/glaucoma?sso=y
WebMD. (2014). Glaucoma. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/glaucoma-eyes