How Do I Know if I Have Glaucoma & How Is It Treated?

Have you noticed unusual changes in your vision, such as blurriness or patchy blind spots? If so, glaucoma may be to blame. Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the nerve that transfers visual information to the brain and plays a key role in eyesight. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and even eventually blindness.

Let’s take a closer look at glaucoma, its signs and symptoms and how this common eye condition is treated by ophthalmologists.

What Are the Types of Glaucoma?

There are multiple types of glaucoma, each with its own set of signs and symptoms. The two main types of glaucoma are:

  • Open-angle glaucoma – The most common type, open-angle glaucoma comprises about 90% of glaucoma cases in the U.S. It develops because of resistance in the eye’s drainage canals, which can eventually lead to a buildup of fluid that places pressure on the optic nerve.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma – Also referred to as narrow-angle or closed-angle glaucoma, this type is often a medical emergency that requires immediate care. Angle-closure glaucoma results from a sudden buildup of fluid inside of the eye.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

The symptoms of glaucoma will depend on its type. Symptoms can affect one or both eyes and vary in severity.

Open-Angle Glaucoma Symptoms

Open-angle glaucoma does not typically cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages and thus is referred to as the “silent thief of sight”. As pressure continues to build along the optic nerve, this condition can cause:

  • Patchy blind spots in side (peripheral) vision
  • Gradually declining central vision

Angle-Closure Glaucoma Symptoms

The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma develop suddenly and may include:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Red eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Colored rings or halos around lights

It is best to urgently notify your ophthalmologist or visit the nearest emergency room if you or someone around you experiences sudden symptoms suggestive of angle-closure glaucoma.

When Should I Seek Treatment for Glaucoma?

Many cases of glaucoma do not cause symptoms until their later stages, so the disease may already be advanced by the time you notice changes in your vision. This fact underscores the importance of routinely having an eye examination during which an ophthalmologist can assess your risk factors for glaucoma, measure the eye pressures and evaluate the health of your optic nerves.

As discussed, you should call your ophthalmologist or go to the nearest ER if signs of angle-closure glaucoma develop

Am I at Risk for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma can affect people of all ages. However, there are certain factors that increase a person’s risk of developing this condition. These include:

  • Age older than 55
  • Having a family member with glaucoma
  • African-American, Asian, or Hispanic race
  • Having diabetes, high blood pressure or high eye pressure (ocular hypertension)
  • Use of corticosteroids (especially steroid eye medications) for a prolonged period of time
  • Having a previous eye injury or having undergone certain types of eye surgery
  • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

A timely diagnosis is key to successful glaucoma treatment. Although damage caused by glaucoma cannot be undone, an ophthalmologist can help prevent further vision loss or slow the progression of the disease.

Multiple approaches can be taken to relieve eye pressure and minimize damage to the optic nerve, including:


The first line of treatment for glaucoma is often prescription eye drops. Taken daily, these eye drops can reduce eye pressure by either slowing aqueous fluid production or promoting aqueous drainage.


Durysta® is an FDA-approved glaucoma treatment that involves placing a very small, dissolvable implant in the eye. This implant gradually releases medication (bimatoprost) that helps lower eye pressure. The procedure to place the implant is quick, painless and performed in an office setting.

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty

Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a safe and effective laser surgery that lowers eye pressure by targeting pigmented cells in the eye’s drainage channel. In response, there is improved eye drainage and reduced intraocular pressure. This in-office procedure is generally painless and takes about five minutes to complete.


Patients who do not respond well to conservative glaucoma treatments may be candidates for surgery. There are several types of surgical treatment options for glaucoma, including minimally invasive approaches that are often performed alongside cataract surgery. One such technique is placing an FDA-approved drainage device called iStent inject® to relieve pressure inside the eye.

Learn More About Glaucoma Treatment

Dr. Mark Arey and the rest of the applauded ophthalmology team at Florida Medical Clinic provide a full scope of medical and surgical care to patients with glaucoma and other complex eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Arey at either his North Tampa or Land O’Lakes location, visit our website or call (813) 284-2323.

Meet Mark Arey, MD

Central Florida native Dr. Mark Arey is a board-certified ophthalmologist providing comprehensive ophthalmology care, including glaucoma management, to his patients in North Tampa and Pasco since 2008. He specializes in premium cataract surgery utilizing femtosecond laser and advanced technology intraocular lenses. He was also the first ophthalmic surgeon in North Tampa to utilize femtosecond laser technology in cataract. Dr. Arey is honored to have once again been chosen by his peers as a Tampa Magazine “Top Doc” for 2022 in their annual survey of physicians. More information on Dr. Arey and his practice at Florida Medical Clinic Eye Specialists can be found at



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