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Symptoms of Glaucoma

by Mary Calvagna, MS


In the early stages of the disease, most cases of open-angle glaucoma present no noticeable signs or symptoms. Vision stays normal and there is no pain. But, even without symptoms, irreversible damage can be happening to your optic nerve. If glaucoma remains untreated for a long period of time, you may begin to notice some symptoms. Some cases of closed-angle glaucoma, especially during an acute attack, are associated with symptoms, which are discussed below.

The main symptom of glaucoma is loss of peripheral vision. This means that you can see things clearly in front of you, but objects to the side and out of the corner of your eye may be missed. As the disease progresses, it may seem as though you are looking through a tunnel. Over time, the remaining forward vision may decrease and the field of vision narrow until blindness results.


The Eye

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Depending on the type of glaucoma you have, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Blind spots
  • Blurred vision
  • Vague eye aching
  • Inability to adjust the eye to darkened rooms
  • Difficulty focusing on close work
  • Loss of side vision (peripheral vision)
  • Fluctuating vision

More serious symptoms associated with acute angle-closure glaucoma (a medical emergency) that may require immediate medical attention include, but are not limited to:

  • Sore, reddened eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Seeing colored halos, rings or rainbows around lights
  • Tearing
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

SOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology


Glaucoma Research Foundation


National Eye Institute



Last reviewed September 2003 by Marc Ellman, MD


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