Going to the eye doctor only to get a little puff of air in your eye isn’t fun. But did you know that little puff of air can keep you from going blind?
If someone in your family history had glaucoma, you may also be at risk for the condition. High pressure inside the eye often causes damage to the optic nerve, which is how your brain gets visual stimuli. But if you notice something different, it may be too late.
The best way to detect and treat glaucoma is with regular eye exams, but here are 7 acute glaucoma symptoms to watch for.
When your peripheral vision disappears, it’s also called tunnel vision because it feels like you’re looking through a narrow tube. Your peripherals let you see what’s around you without you having to move your head, so if they aren’t there, you can only see what’s right in front of you.
Most of the time you won’t know you have glaucoma unless you have regular vision checks at your eye doctor. If your peripheral vision starts to go, then you need to get seen right away. This can indicate a problem with glaucoma or another serious eye condition, and vision loss can’t always be reversed.
If you’re experiencing blindness, your glaucoma may be in the acute stages. Unfortunately, if your vision has started to disappear, treatment for glaucoma can’t always restore it. Get seen right away by your eye doctor to determine the cause of the vision loss and possible treatment plans.
Blindness can indicate other issues and may be treatable. Work with both your family doctor and your eye doctor to discover what remedies are available for you.
Less-common types of glaucoma do come with sudden symptoms. If you have a sudden onset of blurry vision or you’re seeing halos around lights, they could indicate angle-closure glaucoma.
It’s unusual to develop this type of glaucoma rather than having it as a congenital defect, but it can happen.
Angle-closure glaucoma also can manifest with sudden eye pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you have these symptoms along with the blurry vision and light halos mentioned above, together they could mean a serious problem. Call your eye doctor to set up a comprehensive eye exam, where they will test for glaucoma and help you set up a treatment plan.
Cataracts develop in the lens of your eye and happen most often to older people, according to research by the National Eye Institute. The lens clouds and vision becomes obscured. Your doctor can remove cataracts with surgery.
However, some people who develop cataracts in their eyes can also develop glaucoma. The best way to find out is to have your doctor do a routine check of your eyes. They will either use a tonometer or shoot a little puff of air in your eye.
The tonometer is shaped like a pencil. The doctor will first numb your eyes with some drops, and then read how well your cornea pushes back by placing the tonometer against the outside of your eyeball. It won’t hurt you, but it may feel uncomfortable.
If your doctor uses the air test, you’ll place your chin on the machine and stare into it without blinking. Then it releases a small puff of air into your eye. Either test can detect glaucoma, and they are both brief and painless.
One type of glaucoma is congenital, meaning that children are born with it. It’s not very common. If the channel where the liquid in your eye drains isn’t at the proper angle, liquid (called aqueous humor) can build up and put extra pressure on your eye. Even if the angle is correct, fluid can drain too slowly causing glaucoma.
But children born with a defect in the angle can have angle-closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma. If you notice your child’s cornea is cloudy, ask their doctor right away because it could be a symptom of congenital glaucoma.
Another symptom of congenital glaucoma is light sensitivity. While this isn’t common in older people who develop glaucoma later in life, it can indicate a problem if children are born with a defect in the angle of the drainage channel in the eye.
Babies and small children can’t always communicate what type of problem they’re having, so they may not be able to let you know that the light bothers them. Watch for external indicators of discomfort to help you figure out what’s going on. If you notice that your child is sensitive to light, or acts uncomfortable in bright rooms or outdoors in sunlight, they have may light sensitivity caused by congenital glaucoma.
Congenital glaucoma can also manifest in watery eyes. While watery eyes don’t always indicate this issue, combined with the other symptoms listed above (cloudy corneas, light sensitivity), they can indicate a defect in the drainage channel angle.
In babies, watery eyes can mean a clogged tear duct, too, or other issues like pink eye (conjunctivitis) or even a cold. Don’t jump to conclusions about glaucoma if you notice this symptom alone. Make sure to consult a professional for help in diagnosing your child.
While most common forms of glaucoma don’t cause a lot of discomfort until acute signs like peripheral vision loss and blindness, other types do have specific indicators. If you or your children have any of the acute glaucoma symptoms listed above, it could be glaucoma.
It’s important to get seen right away if you think you may have this or any other eye problem, and regular checkups with the eye doctor can help prevent glaucoma from becoming acute.
Request an appointment today and be on your way to total eye health.