Glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss and blindness in the West. In Spain it affects more than 3% of the population. It is known as “the thief of silent vision” because it can irreparably damage the optic nerve before it begins to show symptoms or affect vision significantly. To diagnose glaucoma, we need a complete eye exam. In addition to taking the intraocular pressure, a complete exploration of the optic nerve must be done, dilating the pupils, to check if there is damage to it and to do an exploration of the visual field to verify if there are damaged peripheral areas. About 50% of people who have glaucoma don’t know it.
How does a person with glaucoma see? So that you can put yourself in the shoes of people with this visual health problem, in Optics we will explain how glaucoma can affect the vision of the person who suffers from it.
Types of glaucoma
Glaucoma can occur in different types and have different consequences. There are mainly four types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common type of glaucoma. Its cause is not known although it is considered that there may be a genetic factor, since it is usually passed from parents to children. It is imperceptible for a long time because the increase in eye pressure is very slow. It can cause points of blindness.
- Angular closure glaucoma: This is the opposite case to the previous one. The pressure of the eye increases abruptly and suddenly due to a blockage. This is an emergency case and it is necessary to go immediately to the emergency room. It can be caused by some medicines and drops to dilate the pupil. It presents with sudden blurred vision and severe eye pain.
- Congenital glaucoma: It happens from birth and tends to run in families. The cause is usually an incorrect development of the eye or ocular nerve that occurs mainly during pregnancy.
- Secondary glaucoma: It is the only type of glaucoma for which the cause is known and it is because it is a consequence of another problem. It may be due to injury or trauma to the eye, be caused by diabetes or uveitis, or even be the result of taking corticosteroids.
How a person with glaucoma looks
As we have already mentioned, this eye disease is unknown to many of the people who suffer from it. This is because, depending on the type of glaucoma and the stage of the disease, many times the person with glaucoma does not perceive that there has been any change in their vision.
Therefore, how a person with glaucoma sees depends entirely on each case.
What it looks like with mild glaucoma
When a person has glaucoma, but is still in the early stages of development, vision can remain without noticeable alterations and the only indication that there is a problem would be a slight increase in intraocular pressure, which is imperceptible if periodic eye exams are not used.
What it looks like with medium-severity glaucoma
Some of the symptoms that can present somewhat more advanced glaucoma are:
- Fluctuating vision: Problems focusing the gaze or moments in which some type of vision loss is perceived. This may be due to specific blind spots or excess pressure on the optic nerve.
- Halos around lights: A person with glaucoma’s vision may be perceived by electric lights with halos, sometimes the color of rainbows.
- Blurred vision: A person with glaucoma may feel that they cannot focus or notice a kind of mist that covers their vision and that does not disappear when the eyes are hydrated.
- Loss of vision: From very mild to very severe, the person suffering from glaucoma may notice that their general vision is disappearing and that when putting on prescription glasses it does not improve.
How a person with severe glaucoma sees
In the event that glaucoma is severe, is in advanced stages and the damage to the optic nerve is considerable, it may be noted that peripheral or lateral vision is limited, that episodes of tunnel vision occur or that it is constant and, even, you can suffer complete blindness. However, it is likely that before this happens some symptoms have been noticed and a specialist has been seen to confirm the diagnosis and take appropriate measures.
If you want to prevent glaucoma, the best thing you can do is go to periodic check-ups with specialists so that they can evaluate the health of your eyes and measure intraocular pressure.