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What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss in one or both eyes. Glaucoma is caused by fluid buildup behind the eye. This puts pressure on your optic nerve and damages it. Glaucoma usually develops slowly.

What increases my risk for glaucoma?

  • Farsightedness
  • Age older than 40
  • Female gender
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, or anticholinergics
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Severe eye injury

What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?

  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Blind spots
  • Trouble focusing on objects that are close to your eyes
  • Halos or rainbows around lights at night

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes. He will check your peripheral vision. He may check how well your eyes drain fluid. You may need any of the following:

  • A tonometry test is used to measure your eye pressure. Your eyes are numbed with eyedrops and your healthcare provider touches your eyes with an instrument. A puff of air may instead be blown into your eyes and pressure is measured with a light.
  • An ophthalmoscope will be used to check for optic nerve damage. Your healthcare provider will turn off the lights in the room and shine a bright light in your eyes. You may need eyedrops to dilate your pupils. This gives your healthcare provider a better view of the inside of your eye.

How is glaucoma treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce eye pressure and prevent damage to your optic nerve. You may need any of the following:

  • Eye pressure medicines help decrease eye pressure. They may also decrease the amount of fluid your eyes make or help your eyes drain better.
  • Laser surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work. Healthcare providers use a laser to open your eye drainage system or create a new opening for eye fluid to drain.

How can I help prevent more eye damage?

  • Get regular eye exams. This will help healthcare providers monitor your glaucoma.
  • Avoid behaviors that increase eye pressure. Try not to strain when you have a bowel movement. Do not wear tight clothing around your neck or chest. Do not push or lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Avoid people who are sick. Eye pressure increases when you sneeze or cough.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • Your eye medicine causes your eyes to sting or turn red.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have a sudden loss of vision.
  • You have blurry vision and a severe headache.
  • You have severe eye pain or a change in your vision.
  • You have nausea and are vomiting.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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