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In the early stages of the disease, most cases of open-angle glaucoma present no noticeable signs or symptoms. Vision stays normal and there is no pain. But, even without symptoms, irreversible damage can be happening to your optic nerve. If glaucoma remains untreated for a long period of time, you may begin to notice some symptoms. Some cases of closed-angle glaucoma, especially during an acute attack, are associated with symptoms, which are discussed below.

The main symptom of glaucoma is loss of peripheral vision. This means that you can see things clearly in front of you, but objects to the side and out of the corner of your eye may be missed. As the disease progresses, it may seem as though you are looking through a tunnel. Over time, the remaining forward vision may decrease and the field of vision narrow until blindness results.

The Eye


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Depending on the type of glaucoma you have, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Blind spots
  • Blurred vision
  • Vague eye aching
  • Inability to adjust the eye to darkened rooms
  • Difficulty focusing on close work
  • Loss of side peripheral vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Fluctuating vision

More serious symptoms associated with acute angle-closure glaucoma (a medical emergency) that may require immediate medical attention include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Facial pain
  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Redness and swelling of the eye
  • Pupil not reacting to light
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Tearing
  • Nausea or vomiting

References:

Facts about glaucoma. National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp. Accessed July 16, 2013.

Glaucoma symptoms. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/glaucoma-symptoms.cfm. Accessed July 16, 2013.

Open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated June 6, 2013. Accessed July 16, 2013.

Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma. Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/symptoms-of-angle-closure-glaucoma.php. Accessed July 16, 2013.

Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma. Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/symptoms-of-primary-open-angle-glaucoma.php. Accessed July 16, 2013.

Weinreb RN, Khaw PT. Primary open-angle glaucoma. Lancet. 2004;363:1711.



Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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