Glaucoma Can Steal 40% of Vision Before a Person Notices


Up to 40 percent of a person's vision can be lost without them even noticing. The culprit: Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that gradually steals sight without warning. The vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. Yet there are virtually no symptoms.

Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice any changes in your sight until significant vision is lost.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation calls the disease "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the sight-stealing disease and urging people to get tested.

"Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Over 2.2 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don't know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don't raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision," according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Glaucoma develops slowly and sometimes without noticeable sight loss for many years. By the time a person is aware of vision loss, the disease is usually quite advanced. Without proper treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness.

Who is at risk?

People who are at higher risk include:

  • People of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent
  • People over 60
  • Family members of those already diagnosed
  • Diabetics
  • People who are severely nearsighted

There is no cure for glaucoma yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma a person has. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Getting tested

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the eye doctor should use these five tests, each of which check different factors in order to make an accurate glaucoma diagnosis:

  • Tonometry – examines inner eye pressure
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Also known as a dilated eye exam, this test checks the shape and color of the optic nerve
  • Perimetry – This visual field test checks the complete field of vision
  • Gonioscopy – Examines the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea
  • Pachymetry – Test the thickness of the cornea

For more information, visit the Glaucoma Research Foundation website (

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Nice write up! Awareness is key to tackling Glaucoma.
I'd be more impressed if the writer knew the difference between "site" and "sight." (See their phrase, " [sic] disease."
Four years ago I went to an eye doctor, because my reading glasses weren't strong enough anymore. I wasn't happy with the run around they gave me, but did eventually get the correct glasses.

Here I am, (four years later) I found a new doctor, that I love! He asked me to get my file from the previous doctor. When I brought it to him, he asked me what I was doing for my glaucoma? I told him I don't have glaucoma ... He said that the previous doctor diagnosed me with it four years prior. They never said a word to me, when I went to these doctors. You can imagine my surprise! There were also other issues involving the nerve behind my eyes.

I'm now using drops at night in both eyes for the past year, with no improvement. He also told me I had very thick corneas. I'm wondering if the thickness of my corneas are preventing the drops to get to the problem? I'm also curious about how long can you have glaucoma, before I can't see?

My doctor keeps repeating several tests every three months, and he says the numbers aren't changing.

This has really thrown me for a loop ... I don't know what to think about my situation. Any information would be helpful. Thank you and Happy Holidays!