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Glaucoma Symptoms

What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

For the majority of glaucoma cases, including the most common form, open-angle, there are no discernible symptoms until the optic nerve is damaged and side (peripheral) vision is lost. For this reason, regular eye exams are critical to detection and treatment of the disease.

Open-angle Glaucoma

Photo depicting advanced glaucomaOpen-angle glaucoma, the most common form, initially has no symptoms. The pressure in the eye builds up gradually. At some point, the optic nerve is damaged and side vision (peripheral vision) is lost. Without treatment, total blindness will occur. Similarly, people with normal-tension glaucoma will not experience any symptoms until they begin to lose peripheral vision.

Acute Angle-closure Glaucoma

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is the result of a sudden blockage in the normal flow of eye fluid (aqueous humor) between the iris and the lens. Symptoms may include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and seeing a rainbow halo around lights. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately or blindness could result in one or two days. Chronic angle-closure glaucoma progresses more slowly and can damage the optic nerve without symptoms as in open-angle glaucoma.

Disclaimer: The information provided is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and is not intended to constitute medical advice. It should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Source: BrightFocus Foundation is grateful to Carla J. Siegfried, M.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri for reviewing aspects of the above content.

Last Review: 08/30/13

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