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The Link Between Glaucoma and Red Eyes

The Link Between Glaucoma and Red Eyes

Glaucoma is a disease in which pressure builds up in your eye to the extent that it damages your optic nerve. Most women and men over age 60 who go blind do so because of glaucoma. However, glaucoma strikes at any age. Even babies can be born with glaucoma.

Most of the time, glaucoma has no symptoms. However, in some types of glaucoma, you may develop red eyes

At Eye Associates of Monmouth in Colts Neck, New Jersey, expert ophathamologist John Ghobrial, MD, specializes in diagnosing and treating glaucoma. Our team put together this guide to help raise awareness of glaucoma and its signs, including red eyes.

Many types of glaucoma

Glaucoma isn’t a single disease. Rather, it’s a group of diseases that involve excess pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Without treatment, glaucoma leads to blindness. Types of glaucoma include:

  • Open-angle glaucoma (most common)
  • Normal-tension glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma 
  • Congenital glaucoma
  • Neovascular glaucoma
  • Pigmentary glaucoma
  • Exfoliation glaucoma
  • Uveitic glaucoma

Eye injuries and other eye conditions, including cataracts, may sometimes lead to glaucoma.

Most glaucoma is symptom-free

The most common type of glaucoma — open-angle glaucoma — doesn’t cause pain or even any changes in vision at first. Loss of vision is gradual, too, so you may not notice it until the disease has progressed. 

That’s why it’s so important to have your ophthalmologist check the pressure in your eye every year. When caught early, glaucoma can be treated and reversed.

A red eye is a danger sign

Angle-closure glaucoma is an acute and fast-acting type of glaucoma that can cause blindness within days if not treated. Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris (the colored portion of your eye) blocks your eye’s drainage network.

Pressure builds up suddenly and can permanently damage your optic nerve. Symptoms of this most dangerous form of glaucoma include:

  • Red eye
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dilated pupil
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Halos around objects

If you have a red eye and any other glaucoma symptom, call us or head to an emergency room for immediate treatment. A doctor can alleviate the pressure in your eye with medications or surgery to preserve your sight.

Are you at risk for glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the No. 1 cause of blindness in women and men over age 60. However, if you’re younger, you’re still at risk, especially if you have other risk factors, such as:

  • You have diabetes
  • You have hypertension
  • You’re African-American, Hispanic, or Asian
  • You’re nearsighted
  • You have a family history of glaucoma
  • You’re a steroid user

When it comes to glaucoma, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have red eyes and any other symptom of glaucoma, or if you have one or more risk factors, call Dr. Ghobrial right away. If you have a red eye and pain, head straight to the emergency room for treatment.

Dr. Ghobrial lowers the pressure in your eye with eye drops that decrease fluid production, oral medications to reduce eye pressure, or surgical procedures. He’s an expert in selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), which targets specific cells in your eye to lower pressure and allow your eye to heal.

If you have red eyes, find out why today. Contact our friendly team for an evaluation and treatment. Also be sure to keep your appointments for your regular eye exam, which includes a glaucoma test.

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