At first, glaucoma usually causes no visual symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. However, as the disease progresses, peripheral vision gradually begins failing. That is, objects in front may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed. As the disease worsens, the field of vision narrows and complete blindness can result. Glaucoma is usually a slowly progressive disease, causing damage over many years before obvious symptoms occur.
An ophthalmologist or optometrist can often detect glaucoma during an eye examination. One important part of an eye examination to check for glaucoma and other diseases is to dilate your pupils. To accomplish this, drops are put into your eyes during the exam to enlarge your pupils. This allows the eye care professional to see more of the inside of the eye.
To detect glaucoma, your eye care professional will do the following tests:
- Visual acuity—measures how well you see at various distances
- Visual field—measures your side (peripheral) vision
- Tonometry—determines fluid pressure inside the eye
- Pupil dilation—provides a better view of the optic nerve to check for signs of damage
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