What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
If you have chronic glaucoma, it can take a long time before you realise you have a problem with your eyesight. This is because chronic glaucoma is painless and usually damages the outer edge of the vision and works slowly inwards. Without regular checks you may not notice a problem until the glaucoma is near the centre of your vision.
Acute glaucoma is rare but usually painful often accompanied by blurred vision and haloes around lights. If you get these symptoms it is important to seek immediate assistance. Contact your optician or local Accident and Emergency department.
Even if the symptoms go away you should contact your optician as soon as possible as repeat episodes can cause damage to your eyesight.
Visual symptoms of glaucoma
These images show the difference in vision typically expected between someone with normal vision, someone with mild glaucoma, and someone with more advanced glaucoma.
Images used with permission from the International Glaucoma Association.
Tests for glaucoma
Eye pressure test (tonometry)
An instrument called a tonometer is used to measure the pressure inside your eye – intraocular pressure. Tonometry can be useful to identify ocular hypertension (OHT – raised pressure in the eye), which is a risk factor for chronic open-angle glaucoma.
Visual field test
You will be shown a sequence of light spots and asked which ones you can see. Some dots will appear in your peripheral vision, which is where glaucoma begins. If you can’t see the spots in your peripheral vision, it may indicate the glaucoma has damaged your vision.
Optic nerve assessment
Your optic nerve connects your eye to your brain. This can be assessed in a variety of ways during your examination and it is also photographed using a retinal camera. Digital retinal photography (DRP) captures an image of your optic nerve which can be used as reference for future visits and to track any changes that may occur over time.
Glaucoma can be treated but early detection is important. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment and damage that cannot be reversed. But if it’s detected and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be minimised or prevented.
So regular eye tests are essential. You should have an eye test at least every two years or more frequently if advised by your Specsavers optometrist. For example, they may suggest you have more frequent eye tests if you have a close relative with glaucoma, such as a parent, brother or sister.
If your Specsavers optometrist suspects glaucoma, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist for further tests. If the ophthalmologist confirms a diagnosis of glaucoma, they will also be able to explain:
- How far the condition has developed
- How much damage the glaucoma has had on your eyes
- What may have caused the glaucoma
They will then be able to advise on treatment which in most cases is simply an eye drop used on a daily basis coupled with regular follow-up appointments.
Drops may be used to examine your eyes in a glaucoma appointment – these can temporarily affect your vision. Please check when making the appointment if you will be able to drive immediately after the appointment.
Did you know an eye test could save your life?
For some of our customers, an appointment with Specsavers has not only saved their vision but in some cases it has saved their lives.
We’re working with the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) to defend the nation against avoidable sight loss, and support those with eyesight difficulties.