Symptoms and Detection
Print Email

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

At first, there are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain.

However, as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her side vision gradually failing. That is, objects in front may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed.

As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains. 

Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes.


How is glaucoma detected?

Glaucoma is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:

  1. Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances. A tonometer measures pressure inside the eye to detect glaucoma.
  2. Visual field test. This test measures your side (peripheral) vision. It helps your eye care professional tell if you have lost side vision, a sign of glaucoma.
  3. Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
  4. Tonometry. An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
  5. Pachymetry. A numbing drop is applied to your eye. Your eye care professional uses an ultrasonic wave instrument to measure the thickness of your cornea.

Portions of the retina that can be seen through an undilated versus a dilated pupil.