usually affects side (peripheral) vision first. If glaucoma is not treated,
vision loss will continue, resulting in total blindness over time. If glaucoma
is identified early and treated appropriately, good eyesight can usually be
Open-angle glaucoma, the most common
type of glaucoma in the United States and Canada, usually affects both eyes at the same
time. But one eye may be affected more than the other. In open-angle glaucoma,
vision changes so slowly that much of your eyesight may be affected before you
notice the condition.
- Increased pressure and other factors gradually
damage the optic nerve.
- Side (peripheral) vision is affected first.
Blind spots from each side of the field of vision gradually meet, increasing
the area of blindness. Central vision, used for reading and seeing details, is
- If untreated, open-angle glaucoma affects central
vision, leading to permanent total blindness.
Closed-angle glaucoma is less common
and usually affects only one eye at a time. About half of people who have
closed-angle glaucoma develop the condition in the other eye within 5
Acute closed-angle glaucoma
develops suddenly and is an emergency medical situation.
- The blockage of fluid drainage from the eye
causes a sudden rise of pressure in the eye.
- If not treated
promptly, the pressure in the eye leads to rapid, permanent damage to the
optic nerve .
- Severe and permanent vision loss can develop within
hours or days after symptoms develop.
You may have short episodes of closed-angle glaucoma.
Without treatment, these recurrent episodes can develop into an emergency
situation (acute closed-angle glaucoma) or become a long-term problem (chronic
closed-angle glaucoma). If chronic closed-angle glaucoma is not treated, you
will gradually lose your sight and you may become completely blind.
Glaucoma that is present at birth (congenital glaucoma) or that develops within the first few years of life (infantile
glaucoma) is rare. But it can be very serious. If congenital glaucoma is left
untreated, permanent blindness can develop rapidly.
any type of glaucoma may delay or prevent further vision loss, but it cannot
reverse vision loss that has already occurred. In a few rare cases of
congenital glaucoma, some reversal of the damage to the optic nerve has been
If you have glaucoma, normal use of your eyes (such as for
reading or watching television) will not speed up vision loss or make the
How significantly your life will be affected
depends on the severity of vision loss and your lifestyle. For information on
how to live with low vision, see the Home Treatment section of this