Glaucoma


Glaucoma is a very serious condition of the eye. If the condition goes untreated, it can result in tunnel vision and eventually, blindness. Fortunately, with early treatment, blindness from glaucoma can be prevented.

woman facing forward

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is characterized by a buildup in eye pressure. When fluid builds up in your eye, the pressure increases, and over time will cause permanent damage to the optic nerve. When this damage occurs, it is permanent and cannot be reversed.

What Are the Two Types Of Glaucoma?

There are two types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type. It occurs when the fluid in the eye doesn't drain the way that it should. This causes a build-up of pressure in the eye. It shows no early signs, and it does not cause any pain. Angle-closure is less common. This type occurs if your iris is close to the eye's drainage angle. The iris can block the angle, cutting off drainage completely. This results in eye pressure increasing very quickly.

What Are the Symptoms Of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma symptoms depend on the type of glaucoma that you have. Open-angle glaucoma shows no symptoms at first. This is why it is also known as “the silent thief of sight.” Over time, the optic never will become damaged causing blank spots in your vision. Over time, the blank spots will cause tunnel vision and then blindness.

Angle-closure glaucoma causes more severe symptoms. During an acute attack, you will notice that your vision has suddenly become blurry. You can also experience severe eye pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Many people with this type of glaucoma will see rainbow rings or halos around lights.

Who Is At Risk Of Developing Glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, certain factors increase your chance of developing this disease.

    • If you are over 40-years-old
    • If you have a family history of glaucoma
    • Being of African, Asian, or Hispanic heritage
    • If you generally have high eye pressure
    • If you have thin corneas
    • If your optic nerve is thinning
    • If you have sustained an eye injury
    • If you have been using steroid medications for an extended period
    • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic migraines

How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

During an annual eye exam, your optometrist will check the pressure in your eye. If it is high, they will order further testing. A visual field test to check your peripheral vision is common. A computer measurement of your optic never and cornea will also be taken.

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. Some medications can be taken to decrease the pressure in your eye and slow the progression of the disease. In more severe cases, laser surgery can be performed to assist in draining the fluid from your eye.

Because glaucoma shows no early symptoms, it is essential that you schedule annual visits at Wardell Vision Center in Billings. Our doctors of optometry will check the pressure in your eye, making it possible to catch the disease early.  


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