Normal-Tension Glaucoma Symptoms
Regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery) are very important, because people with normal-tension glaucoma do not experience any early symptoms of it.
Because of its silent nature, people do not usually have any visual complaints until late in the course of the disease. By the time a person with normal-tension glaucoma would notice vision loss, significant amounts of optic nerve damage and vision loss would have already occurred. The optic nerve damage and vision loss are permanent.
When to Seek Medical Care
Regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist are important to screen for optic nerve damage and vision loss, despite a normal eye pressure.
Those who are suspected of having normal-tension glaucoma may also undergo a physical examination with a doctor who is familiar with both cardiovascular diseases (those involving the heart and the blood vessels) and neurologic disorders (those involving the nervous system) because of their association with this type of glaucoma.
Your ophthalmologist will want to know if there is a history of glaucoma or optic nerve abnormalities in your family, because these conditions are often inherited.
During your eye examination, your ophthalmologist will also ask you about the following, all of which may be associated with normal-tension glaucoma:
- Past ocular history
- Migraine headaches
- Previous eye disease, eye surgery, or eye/head trauma
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- Current medications, including use of steroids
- Any illnesses
- Vasospasms, such as Raynaud syndrome
- Coagulopathies (These diseases affect the ability of the blood to clot.)
- Previous blood loss or shocklike episodes
- Nocturnal hypotension (Below normal blood pressure occurs during the nighttime hours.)
- Autoimmune disorders (Normal tissues no longer function or are destroyed by the body’s own immune system.)
- Vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis (In atherosclerosis, the arteries are blocked or closed.)
- Thyroid disease
- Sleep apnea (Breathing is interrupted or momentarily stopped while sleeping, particularly prevalent in people who are overweight.)
- Alzheimer's disease