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What Is Glaucoma?

No doubt you want to learn more about glaucoma because it may be affecting you or someone you know or love. This is a great place to start.

Glaucoma is the name given to several eye conditions that can damage the optic nerve and cause loss of vision. Most often this damage is caused by high pressure inside the eye.

Much has been written about glaucoma, and understanding it all can be confusing. To protect and preserve eyesight, the most important things to learn first are the signs of glaucoma and the basics of glaucoma testing.

Most people are unaware of glaucoma symptoms until they notice something wrong with their eyesight. By then, glaucoma vision loss may already be happening.

The good news is that glaucoma may be detected early through routine eye exams. Eye pressure symptoms can be treated by glaucoma specialists, and vision may be saved.

Could I have glaucoma and not know it?

Yes, you could have glaucoma and not know it. The most common types are open-angle glaucoma, narrow-angle glaucoma, and angle-closure glaucoma. Most often they affect men and women ages 60 or older with a history of glaucoma in their family. People who are Hispanic or who are African American over age 40 are at higher risk. Also, people with diabetes or high blood pressure are more likely to have it.

Glaucoma symptoms usually begin with a slow loss of peripheral vision—your ability to clearly see objects that are off to your sides. This may be followed by eye redness, eye pain, headaches, blurry vision, halo images around lights, upset stomach, and more loss of peripheral vision. It’s possible to have any combination of these symptoms when you begin to have glaucoma.

Glaucoma Screening

If you have the symptoms described above, we urge you to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away. By examining your eyes and their optic nerves, measuring your inner eye pressure, and checking your field of vision, an ophthalmologist can determine if you have glaucoma and recommend a plan to treat it. Sometimes this includes sending you to a specialist who is a glaucoma expert.

In SCEI Glaucoma Blog #2, we talk about glaucoma risk factors so you can see how likely you are to have glaucoma or develop it in the future.

Many people, especially those who are Latino, Hispanic, or African American, are at greater risk of vision loss and blindness. By knowing glaucoma risk factors, you can help yourself and family members avoid eye damage from glaucoma.

In SCEI Glaucoma Blog #3, we discuss different types of glaucoma screening.

The goal of this series of weekly blogs is to help you feel informed and confident, wherever you are in learning about glaucoma.

Visit  weekly to learn more.

Please provide feedback, suggested topics, or questions about glaucoma in the Contact Us section below. Thank you.