Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects over 3 million people in the United States alone. It is more common in older adults, but it can affect anyone at any age. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to significant vision loss. In this blog, we share the risk factors, signs, types of glaucoma, treatments, and when you should see a doctor.

Risk factors

Certain individuals are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. Risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Age (over 60)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Certain medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension
  • African American or Hispanic/Latino heritage

If you fall into one or more of these categories, knowing the signs of glaucoma and getting regular eye exams are key to preventing this disease.

Signs & symptoms

The most common symptom associated with glaucoma is an increase in pressure within the eye. However, this symptom isn’t always present as some forms of glaucoma have no noticeable symptoms. Other signs of glaucoma include:

  • Vision loss around the edges (peripheral vision)
  • Tunnel vision
  • Halos around bright lights
  • Headaches
  • Pain in one or both eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away. 

Types of glaucoma 

There are two main types of glaucoma—­open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle (narrow-angle) glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is much more common than narrow-angle and doesn’t usually have symptoms. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when fluid is blocked from leaving the eye due to anatomical changes behind the iris. This causes high pressure buildup in the eye that can cause sudden vision loss if left untreated.

Treatment options

Treatment varies depending on what type of glaucoma you have. Treatment options include medications such as eyedrops or pills as well as laser surgery or traditional surgery to help reduce pressure in the eye or improve drainage. Your optometrist will determine which option is best for you based on your individual needs and health history. 

With early detection and proper management, most people with glaucoma can preserve their vision for years to come. If you’re at an increased risk of developing glaucoma, be sure to schedule an appointment with our eye doctors today!