What Are the Early Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Jul 1, 2024

Glaucoma is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it can sneak up on you without any warning signs. By the time you notice any symptoms, significant and irreversible damage may have already occurred. But don’t worry—we’re here to help. We’re sharing some early symptoms of glaucoma so you can catch it early and protect your vision. If you suspect you have glaucoma or are at risk, schedule a glaucoma exam with our experts at Hanna Eye Care in Jacksonville, Florida.  

What is glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is crucial for good vision. The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma, where fluid buildup in the eye leads to increased pressure and eventual nerve damage. This condition often develops slowly over time and can go unnoticed until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the early symptoms. While glaucoma can occur at any age, it affects older adults more frequently. Early detection and treatment can prevent severe vision loss. 

Early symptoms of glaucoma 

Glaucoma is typically associated with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve over time. However, it can also occur with normal IOP levels. There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. 

  • Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common form of glaucoma. It develops slowly and often without any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Early signs include: 
  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision: This is often the first symptom. You may not notice it until significant vision is lost. 
  • Tunnel vision: As the disease progresses, you may start to experience tunnel vision, where your peripheral vision is significantly reduced. 
  • Angle-closure glaucoma: This type can occur suddenly and is considered a medical emergency. Early symptoms may include: 
  • Severe eye pain: Sudden, intense pain in the eye. 
  • Blurred vision: Sudden onset of blurred vision. 
  • Halos around lights: Seeing rainbow-colored rings around lights. 
  • Red eyes: Your eyes may become red and inflamed. 
  • Nausea and vomiting: Often accompanies severe eye pain and vision problems. 
  • Normal-tension glaucoma: This form occurs even when IOP is within the normal range. Symptoms are similar to those of open-angle glaucoma and include gradual loss of peripheral vision. 

Importance of regular eye exams 

Since glaucoma can develop without noticeable symptoms, regular comprehensive eye exams are crucial for early detection. During an eye exam at Hanna Eye Care, we may do the following: 

  • Measure your intraocular pressure. 
  • Examine the drainage angle of your eye. 
  • Inspect your optic nerve for signs of damage. 
  • Test your peripheral vision. 
  • Take images and measurements of your optic nerve. 

Treatment for glaucoma 

While there is no cure for glaucoma, early treatment often stops further damage and protects your vision. If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, treatment typically begins with prescription eye drops to lower eye pressure. In some cases, oral medications or laser treatments may be recommended. However, if these treatments do not lower your eye pressure to a safe level, surgery might be necessary. 

When surgery is recommended, we will refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist in the Jacksonville area who specializes in glaucoma treatment. Following surgery, your eye doctor at Hanna Eye Care will closely monitor your progress and recovery. During follow-up visits, we will check your eye pressure, ensure proper healing, and manage any post-surgery complications. 

Early detection of glaucoma is vital to preserving your vision. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above or have a family history of glaucoma, schedule an appointment with Hanna Eye Care in Jacksonville, Florida. Our dedicated team is here to provide you with the best eye care and guide you through every step of your treatment.