Why Does Early Glaucoma Come with Silent Symptoms?
Glaucoma is one of the scariest types of eye disease because it steals your vision before you are even aware you have the condition. This group of eye diseases is nicknamed the “Silent Thief of Sight” because the first noticeable symptom is often the loss of peripheral vision. Early detection and treatment are critical to preserving your eyesight. Our eye doctors at Intracoastal Eye specialize in glaucoma and other eye diseases and will develop a plan to maintain your vision and restore normal eye pressure.
What Is Glaucoma?
Several parts of the eye’s anatomy are at play in glaucoma, which is characterized by abnormally high eye pressure. The eye’s fluid (aqueous humor) circulates throughout the eye and exits through a drainage angle found between the cornea (the front portion of the eye) and the iris (the pigmented area). Fluid production should match the outflow through the angle. When aqueous humor can’t drain adequately due to a clog or blockage in the angle, the fluid builds up in the eye, increasing intraocular pressure and putting strain on the optic nerve.
The optic nerve relays information to your brain to transform light into images. Vision loss occurs when high eye pressure damages the optic nerve, which sadly is the first noticeable symptom for many people with glaucoma. While there are over 40 variations of glaucoma, they fall into two categories: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the silent sight-stealer that presents with no warning signs, while closed-angle glaucoma may develop over time or suddenly in what’s called an acute closed angle glaucoma attack. These attacks are medical emergencies because the sudden spike in eye pressure causes vision damage along with eye pain, light halos, red eyes and severe headaches.
In many cases, glaucoma presents with silent symptoms because the only sign is increased eye pressure, which gradually causes loss of your side vision and leads to tunnel vision. However, regular eye exams can diagnose glaucoma early — before the optic nerve is damaged. If you have lost parts of your vision to glaucoma, treatments can help prevent further harm but will not restore your eyesight.
What Glaucoma Treatments Are Available?
Medicated eye drops can effectively control glaucoma and may be combined with laser treatments to restore fluid outflow by opening the drainage angle or creating a new outflow point. Some treatments aim to reduce fluid production to lower intraocular pressure, while others focus on the drainage angle.
There is no way to prevent glaucoma, but early diagnosis is the key to saving your vision from this silent thief, which is accomplished through regular comprehensive eye exams. Contact Intracoastal Eye to schedule your eye exam and discuss your glaucoma treatment options.