Can Glaucoma Cause Blindness?

November 29, 2020 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Glaucoma Blindness

Image of children seen through tunnel visionGlaucoma is the second leading cause of vision loss (behind cataracts) among the elderly. It is not surprising that people who are diagnosed with the condition are quick to ask, “Will my glaucoma lead to blindness?”

While glaucoma does have the potential to damage the vision, there are many methods of preventing total vision loss among patients if the condition is diagnosed and managed. Eye doctor Dr. Thomas Byrd has helped numerous patients in Detroit, Dearborn Heights, and Lincoln Park, MI manage their glaucoma. Let’s discuss how glaucoma impacts vision and what we can do to preserve your eyesight.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects the normal function of the optic nerve. The condition is most often linked to high intraocular pressure. High intraocular pressure can occur when excess fluids build up within the eye, either because the eye is not draining properly or because fluids are being overproduced. Increased eye pressure damages the optic nerve and causes tissues to gradually deteriorate.

The optic nerve is considered to be part of the brain, and once a person is an adult, the brain no longer makes any new tissues. Because of this, any damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible. The more optic nerve damage a person suffers, the greater effect it will have on their eyesight.

How Glaucoma Effects Your Vision

In the early stages of glaucoma, patients may not experience any noticeable side effects. Or is someone does experience side effects, they may not be recognized as early signs of glaucoma since these side effects do no affect vision. For instance, some of the earliest symptoms of glaucoma include headaches, nausea or vomiting, and eye redness.

As glaucoma progresses, vision quality will be adversely impacted. Fortunately, vision loss is usually gradual rather than sudden.

Individuals with glaucoma may start to experience visual disturbances such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Halos or glares around sources of light
  • Small blind patches in the peripheral or central vision
  • A gradual loss of the peripheral vision (which can lead to tunnel vision)

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Without proper treatment and management, glaucoma will lead to irreversible vision loss. When it comes to preventing blindness from glaucoma, early intervention is essential.

Since glaucoma may not produce noticeable side effects until the vision has already been compromised, the most important thing a person can do to prevent vision loss is schedule regular eye exams. Routine eye exams are typically recommended once every two years, though more frequent exams may be necessary as a person gets older. A routine eye exam is the best way to diagnose glaucoma before the eyesight has been compromised.

Managing Glaucoma to Prevent Blindness

Once glaucoma is diagnosed, there are many different treatment methods available to manage glaucoma and preserve the vision. Common treatments include oral medication, medicated eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery.

If glaucoma is regularly managed and treatment is adjusted accordingly, the chance that glaucoma will cause blindness decreases significantly. Most people who are diagnosed with glaucoma are able to enjoy clear eyesight for many years thanks to continual monitoring and treatment.

Get More Information About Glaucoma

Dr. Byrd is here to answer any questions you may have about the effects of glaucoma and how the condition is treated. To learn more, send us a message online at your earliest convenience, or call (313) 383-1300 to schedule an appointment.

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