Unlike many other eye diseases, primary glaucoma often exhibits few if any initial signs or symptoms. In most cases, vision is unaffected, and any noticeable loss of peripheral vision usually does not occur until much later when there has already been significant nerve damage. For this reason, patients need to get regular eye health exams so that the doctor can detect glaucoma in its early stages by checking the intraocular pressure and examining the optic nerve and visual field.
A less common but emergency type of glaucoma exhibits very high eye pressure and may have symptoms that should not be ignored. The symptoms would include eye pain, blurred foggy vision, nausea, and vomiting and are a reason to call your eye doctor immediately.
Two of the most common risk factors for glaucoma are a family history of the disease and over 50 years of age. Some groups, including African Americans, Asians, and Latinos, have an increased risk of the disease. Other risk factors include:
Past eye injuries
High blood pressure
Sickle cell anemia
Certain medications, both prescription and over the counter, can also increase your risk for developing this disease.
Untreated glaucoma can lead to complete vision loss. Examination for glaucoma is part of a comprehensive eye exam and is virtually painless. During the exam, your eye doctor may numb your eye and then measure your eye pressure with a tonometer device. The eye doctor will also test your peripheral vision and examine your optic nerve for signs of glaucoma. Be sure to tell your eye doctor about all medications you are taking.