Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight because it commonly has no symptoms such as pain or discomfort, it progresses slowly and in the early stages, it does not affect how clearly you see. You are often not aware that you have glaucoma until permanent vision loss has occurred.
Sometimes symptoms can occur, such as blurred vision, coloured haloes around lights, loss of side vision, pain and redness of the eye.
Regular eye checks with an optometrist are vital as early detection and treatment can reduce damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision. Painless tests to check for glaucoma include checking the pressure inside your eye, checking your field of vision and checking to see if there is any damage to your optic nerve.
In glaucoma, pressure inside the eye progressively damages the optic nerve. This fluid pressure may be caused by the eye producing too much fluid or the fluid being blocked from leaving the eye.
When this fluid pressure builds up, it can damage the optic nerve cells behind the eye, which carry messages from your eye to your brain. This damage to nerve cells can progress until only central vision is left or there is complete blindness.
If you are over the age of 40 years, have a family history of glaucoma, or have diabetes, high blood pressure or another eye disease, glaucoma is more likely to occur and you should have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist.