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What Does Vision with Glaucoma Look Like?

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A point of view of a person with glaucoma looking over a city from afar: the outer edges of the image are dark while a small section in the middle remains clear.

Glaucoma is a serious optical condition that can lead to long-term vision problems. Often called the “silent thief of sight,” this condition progresses slowly and often doesn’t show symptoms until it’s already begun to cause damage to your optic nerve. Fortunately, an optometrist can perform an in-depth, comprehensive eye exam to determine if you’re at risk of developing this condition. But it leaves one question: what does glaucoma do to your vision?

Glaucoma puts pressure on the optic nerve. If left untreated, it can lead to a loss of peripheral vision. It can cause blurry vision, tunnel vision, and the inability to recognize faces. Glaucoma can also cause eye pain, discomfort, and long-term vision loss. This makes it essential to visit an optometrist for regular exams to help diagnose glaucoma early and begin treatment if needed.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can lead to total vision loss or blindness if left untreated. It’s caused by too much pressure in the eye, specifically in the fluid-filled area. This increased pressure, also known as intraocular pressure, can eventually lead to damage to the optic nerve—the part of the eye responsible for sending visual information to the brain.

This increased pressure usually occurs due to a problem with the drainage system in the eye. As you get older, this drainage system can become less efficient, leading to the pressure inside the eye slowly increasing over time. However, there are several different types of glaucoma, which can make it difficult to tell what to expect.

Glaucoma tends to progress silently and slowly. Often referred to as “the silent thief of sight,” glaucoma can often progress without showing any symptoms until it becomes much more serious.

Regular eye exams are a great preventative measure when it comes to glaucoma. An optometrist can perform an in-depth examination of your eye, its inner workings, and the pressure inside. This can allow them the chance to detect glaucoma in its earlier stages, where it’s much more treatable. 

A senior person in a green sweater suffering from a headache while sitting on a couch.

What Symptoms Does Glaucoma Cause?

In its earlier stages, when it begins to develop and progress, glaucoma often doesn’t have any symptoms. It’s important to note, though, that since there are several different types of this glaucoma, symptoms can vary drastically. However, as pressure builds in the eye, it can begin to cause:

  • Tunnel vision
  • A loss of peripheral vision
  • Eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Halos around lights
  • Excessive tearing

If left untreated or undiagnosed, glaucoma can eventually lead to total vision loss—making early intervention essential to reduce the long-term effects of this condition.

What Is It Like to Live With Glaucoma?

Living with glaucoma can pose unique challenges that may not be thought about until the condition begins to develop. Often, one of the first symptoms is the gradual loss of peripheral vision, which leads to tunnel vision.

Imagine you’re looking at a massive painting full of different details and patterns. When you have tunnel vision, you can’t see the entire painting—just a small section, like you’re looking at it through a cylinder or tunnel.

This is a common experience for many people living with glaucoma. As the disease progresses, your vision can become worse. Eventually, it can lead to issues with things like:

  • Walking 
  • Driving
  • Navigating a crowded space without bumping into people or things

It can also lead to difficulty recognizing faces in its later stages. Over time, glaucoma can have a significant impact on your daily life as more and more of your field of vision becomes restricted. The adjustments you need to make to see things clearly, like constantly turning your head or craning your neck, can lead to pain and discomfort in areas other than the eyes.

This, along with the other symptoms, can have a major negative impact on your life. This makes it crucial to try and speak with your optometrist for a proper diagnosis if you notice you’re experiencing some form of tunnel vision.

Can Glaucoma Be Cured?

While glaucoma can be treated to some extent, there is no cure to completely remove how it affects your eye. Once long-term effects have begun to occur, it’s impossible to reverse them. Instead, treatment aims to control the pressure inside your eye to minimize the damage it can cause you in the future. This proactive, rather than reactive, approach typically includes:

  • Prescription eye drops
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgical procedures aiming to reduce pressure in the eye

Glaucoma can cause damage to the optic nerve. Many nerves in your body aren’t able to regenerate damage once they sustain it, so treatment for glaucoma aims to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.

Supporting Healthy Vision

Glaucoma is a serious optical condition that can cause long-term vision loss—early diagnosis and treatment are key to helping to preserve your long-term vision. To speak with an educated and caring eye care professional today, book an appointment with our team at Pacific Eyecare Optometry.

Written by Total Vision

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