The most common types of glaucoma — primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma — have completely different symptoms.
Primary open-angle glaucoma signs and symptoms include:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma signs and symptoms include:
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting (accompanying the severe eye pain)
- Sudden onset of visual disturbance, often in low light
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Reddening of the eye
Both open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma can be primary or secondary conditions. They're called primary when the cause is unknown and secondary when the condition can be traced to a known cause, such as eye injury, medications, certain eye conditions, inflammation, tumor, advanced cataract or diabetes. In secondary glaucoma, the signs and symptoms can include those of the primary condition as well as typical glaucoma symptoms.
When to see a doctor
Don't wait for noticeable eye problems. Primary open-angle glaucoma gives few warning signs until permanent damage has already occurred. Regular eye exams are the key to detecting glaucoma early enough to successfully treat your condition and prevent further progression of your condition.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam for all adults starting at age 40, and every three to five years after that if you don't have any glaucoma risk factors. If you have other risk factors or you're older than age 60, you should be screened every one to two years. If you're African-American, your doctor likely will recommend periodic eye exams starting between ages 20 and 39.
In addition, be aware that a severe headache or pain in your eye, nausea, blurred vision, or halos around lights may be the symptoms of an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack. If you experience some or several of these symptoms together, seek immediate care at an emergency room or at an eye doctor's (ophthalmologist's) office right away.
Oct. 02, 2012
- Facts about glaucoma. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Glaucoma. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/Glaucoma.xml. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Jacobs DS. Open-angle glaucoma: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis. http://wwwuptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Weizer JS. Angle-closure glaucoma. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013:5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23.Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Olitsky SE, et al. Overview of glaucoma in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 20, 2012.
- Jacobs DS. Open-angle glaucoma: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 20, 2012.
- Medication guide. Glaucoma Research Foundation. http://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/medication-guide.php. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Glaucoma treatments. National Glaucoma Research. http://www.ahaf.org/glaucoma/treatment/common/. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Glaucoma risk factors and prevention. National Glaucoma Research. http://www.ahaf.org/glaucoma/about/risk.html. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Preventing eye injuries. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/preventing-eye-injuries.cfm. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Healthy living with glaucoma. National Glaucoma Research. http://www.ahaf.org/glaucoma/livingwith/healthyliving.html. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Low vision resources. Glaucoma Research Foundation. http://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/low-vision-resources.php. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Alternative medicine. Glaucoma Research Foundation. http://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/alternative-medicine.php. Accessed Aug. 22, 2012.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 4, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.