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Understanding Glaucoma -- Symptoms

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How Do I know if I Have Glaucoma?

Tests for glaucoma are brief and painless. Your eye doctor will routinely measure intraocular pressure with a tonometer that you won't feel after having numbing eye drops. Be certain to tell your doctor if you have ever had any prior refractive surgery, because it can artificially alter the eye pressure measurement.

The mere presence of higher-than-normal eye pressure does not mean that you have glaucoma. In fact, some patients with eye pressure low enough to usually be considered normal may actually have glaucoma, while others with elevated pressure may not have the disease. Elevated pressure in the eye without evidence of damage to the optic nerve is called ocular hypertension. Patients with this condition must be tested at regular intervals.

If glaucoma is suspected, your eye doctor will carefully inspect the appearance of the optic nerve for signs of damage. You will also have a visual field test that measures the sharpness of your peripheral vision (side vision) by using spots of light of different sizes and intensities. The doctor will take other measurements, as well.

Congenital glaucoma is typically diagnosed by the eye doctor. If the cornea in your child's eyes appears cloudy, a congenital condition may be present. Babies are routinely checked for the disorder at birth, but if you suspect any eye problem, call an eye doctor.

Call Your Doctor About Glaucoma If:

  • You have a painful red eye; this may indicate acute narrow-angle glaucoma, inflammation, infection, or other serious eye conditions. You need immediate medical attention to prevent potentially permanent eye damage or blindness.
  • You become drowsy, fatigued, or short of breath after using eye drops to treat glaucoma; the drug may be aggravating a heart or lung problem.

Notify your doctor of medications you are taking. Certain drugs, even over-the-counter medications, especially those used to treat sinus and cold congestion, stomach, and intestinal disorders, may provoke an attack of acute closed-angle glaucoma. Bring a list of all your medications to the appointment with your eye doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on March 20, 2014
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