Glaucoma typically gets more severe over time, so getting an early diagnosis can help slow progression. However, some forms of glaucoma are difficult to detect in their earlier stages.
Glaucoma typically develops slowly. You might not notice any symptoms at first. There are also several types of glaucoma, and not all of them are easy to identify in their earlier stages.
Glaucoma worsens over time. It can result in blindness if left untreated. Diagnosing and treating glaucoma in its earlier stages can help slow or stop its progression.
Here’s a closer look at different types of glaucoma, including their early symptoms and treatment options.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. It often develops without symptoms in its early stages.
Open-angle glaucoma rarely causes symptoms until a significant portion of optic nerve fibers is lost. At this advanced stage, you may notice a gradual loss of peripheral vision, called tunnel vision.
Treatments usually involve medication or surgical procedures.
Medications, often in the form of eye drops, can reduce fluid production in the eye or help the fluid drain better. Laser and surgical procedures can create a new drainage pathway for fluid to leave the eye.
Closed-angle glaucoma, or acute glaucoma, is a less common form. It tends to have more obvious early symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
Closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency. It requires immediate treatment to reduce eye pressure and prevent irreversible damage to the optic nerve.
Treatment usually involves medications to lower eye pressure quickly, followed by laser treatment to create a new opening for fluid to leave the eye and prevent future attacks.
Congenital glaucoma is a rare condition that some people are born with.
- an overflow of tears onto the face
- involuntary twitching of the eye
- light sensitivity
As the disease develops, there may be changes in the appearance of the eyes due to increased intraocular pressure. This can lead to cloudiness of the cornea, the front layer of the eye that’s normally clear. One or both eyes may also appear larger than usual.
Early intervention for congenital glaucoma is crucial. The main form of treatment is surgical procedures for correcting structural defects in the eye’s drainage system.
These surgeries create an artificial pathway for the fluid to drain out of the eye, thereby reducing the pressure on the optic nerve.
Normal-tension glaucoma is a unique type of glaucoma where damage to the optic nerve
As the disease progresses, you may experience blurred vision or difficulty seeing in low contrast situations, like driving at night.
You might also have trouble adjusting to extremely bright or low light conditions.
Some people with normal-tension glaucoma may notice symptoms related to blood vessel impairment, such as migraine headaches.
Initial treatment typically involves regular checkups so your optometrist or ophthalmologist can see whether your condition is progressing. If it is, your eye doctor will prescribe treatment to lower your eye pressure, such as beta-blockers or alpha agonists.
In some cases, you may need laser treatment or surgery.
Early detection and treatment can significantly slow the progression of this disease, ultimately helping maintain your vision.
Secondary glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that comes as a side effect of other conditions or factors, such as:
- an eye injury
- certain drugs, like steroids
- advanced cases of cataracts
Symptoms of secondary glaucoma may include:
- eye redness
- blurred vision
- seeing multicolored halos around lights
As the disease progresses, you might experience loss of peripheral vision and difficulty with tasks like reading or climbing stairs due to impaired vision.
Treatment for secondary glaucoma usually involves addressing the underlying cause. For example,
Your treatment may also involve medications to lower the eye pressure or surgical interventions.
Here are some frequently asked questions about early stage glaucoma.
Is glaucoma treatable if caught early?
If detected early, appropriate treatment can often slow or stop the progression of glaucoma and help preserve vision.
Can you live with glaucoma for 50 years?
It’s possible to live with glaucoma for many decades. With appropriate treatment and regular monitoring, you can preserve your vision and maintain a good quality of life.
Can I lead a normal life with glaucoma?
You can lead a fulfilling life with glaucoma. While early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent further eye damage, some strategies can help make glaucoma more manageable in its later stages.
Early stage glaucoma refers to getting an early diagnosis of glaucoma before it progresses far enough to damage your eyesight.
There are different types of glaucoma. Your treatment will depend on the type, your overall health, and your risk factors.
It’s essential to have routine eye checkups so your doctor can detect any issues, including glaucoma, as early as possible.