Often characterized by a troublesome buildup of pressure within the eye, glaucoma can cause a decreased ability to see or total loss of vision. The dangerous pressure that builds in the eye does not always cause any signs or symptoms and can progress without notice until the optic nerve is damaged, often irreparably. The damage to the optic nerve leads to varying degrees of permanent vision loss and other symptoms, from blurred vision to halos around lights to intense eye pain, nausea and finally, total blindness. Glaucoma affects millions and is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States.
The potential of glaucoma to rob patients of their sight is one of the most cited reasons to regularly visit your eye care professional. The use of a tonometer during routine eye exams allows your eye care professional to monitor the pressure within the eye. There are other methods used to measure this pressure, all aimed at catching increased pressure before damage has occurred. When dangerous levels of pressure are detected, treatments can include medication or glaucoma surgery.
Glaucoma is, however, a complex condition and its diagnosis depends on a number of factors, and pressure is just one of these. That’s why a thorough eye exam—including dilation of the pupil and examination of the back of the eye—is recommended at regular intervals to detect glaucoma as early as possible before vision loss occurs