Vision loss may be noticed gradually over several months to years or it may appear suddenly. Frequently, no changes in vision are detected until advanced stages of glaucoma have occurred. Common changes include blurry vision, halos around lights, and pain when trying to read.
In advanced cases, the optic nerve, which contains millions of nerve fibers, may no longer be able to transmit light signals to the brain, resulting in a loss of peripheral vision, loss of depth perception, and, eventually, tunnel vision.
Common questions about vision changes include: Why am I blurry and seeing halos around lights/patterns? Why do I have so much difficulty reading? Why is my vision so cloudy?
Most cases of glaucoma are asymptomatic; the person will have no symptoms until visual impairment is advanced.
Most people experience the slow onset of glaucomatous vision loss and are therefore not aware of the gradual progression of the disease.
Most clinical experts now believe that vision loss from glaucoma will become sufficiently advanced before it causes symptoms that will prompt the patient to seek treatment
Glaucoma causes vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain), which carries all the visual information that is processed in the brain. As the nerve damage progresses, vision in the affected eye(s) slowly deteriorates. It is important to understand that visual field loss is the result of optic nerve damage and not a symptom of the condition.
The loss of peripheral vision, the blind spot, blurred vision, sensitivity to bright lights, and difficulty in seeing at night are common symptoms of the disease. The disease may go undetected for many years due to lack of noticeable symptoms or patients not recognizing or associating the symptoms with glaucoma.
The two main types of glaucoma are chronic open angle and narrow angle. The chronic open angle occurs in more than three quarters of people with glaucoma. The narrow angle type is more difficult to detect and therefore can progress more rapidly than the open angle type. Nearly all people with narrow angle glaucoma suffer painfully from the condition for several weeks before it is properly diagnosed.
In general, untreated glaucoma can lead to blindness. However, the disease does not progress in all people. At times, after treating the disease, there is a regression of symptoms. There are also cases where the condition continues to progress despite medication.
Although it is not possible to prevent loss of vision in glaucoma, using techniques like having a more accurate idea of the size and shape of objects, can be used to help people cope with vision loss.
You do not have to live with vision loss caused by glaucoma. There are treatments and steps you can take to slow or even stop the disease.
For the most part, glaucoma is an optic nerve problem. That’s the nerve that relays information from the eye to the brain. It’s the nerve that is responsible for what we see. As glaucoma slowly advances, nerve fibers begin to die. That causes vision loss that can’t be recovered.
Glaucoma, although not curable, can be treated and cured. See your doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms.
Many people with glaucoma have no symptoms or only have mild symptoms. Symptoms tend to come on gradually and get worse slowly over time. The faster you notice the symptoms, the more likely it is you will be able to stop or slow glaucoma.
Early symptoms include a slight blurring in the corners of the eyes. If not corrected, they can become blind spots. You may have difficulty seeing at night and have halos or colors around bright lights. Some people who have glaucoma may complain that they have light sensitivity, difficulty driving at night, and vision loss in one eye, especially if it is the oldest eye.
Other symptoms of glaucoma may include a change in how far apart your eyes are or appear, unusual tearing, an unusual appearance of the white of the eye, unusual eye color, pain in the eyes or head, and a strange feeling when looking at light.
Most symptoms are on the peripheral vision. That is the vision you use to look around and see what's happening. You do not need to have central vision for doing daily activities. Even if you have lost all peripheral vision in one eye, you will not notice it. For a person with binocular (two eye) vision, the brain will continue to fill in all details. You can see that in this picture, the person has lost peripheral vision in both eyes but still can read the text of the sign, as the brain has taken over all missing details. You can also see that the person is not using glasses.