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Patchy Blind Spots? Could Be Glaucoma

by Damion Wasylow 4 January 2022 11:44 AM

senior man having his eyes examined
An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half know that they have this eye disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, yet the condition remains a mystery to many people.

It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of glaucoma, and the available treatment options. If you’re experiencing patchy blind spots, this may be a key indicator of glaucoma and, as such, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Patchy Blind Spots May Indicate Open-Angle Glaucoma

If you’re experiencing patchy blind spots either in your central or peripheral vision, it could be a sign of open-angle glaucoma.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common is open-angle. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage angle (the point where the iris and sclera meet) stays open, but the trabecular meshwork becomes partially blocked. The trabecular meshwork is a sponge-like tissue near the cornea, and it’s where aqueous humor (fluid) flows from the eye.

Over time, the blockage in the trabecular meshwork causes a buildup of pressure, which damages the optic nerve. Unfortunately, the process happens so gradually that many people don’t realize there’s a problem until they start losing their vision.

And patchy blind spots are just one of several signs of glaucoma.

Other Glaucoma Symptoms to Look Out For

In advanced stages, open-angle glaucoma can cause tunnel vision. This, along with patchy blind spots, are the two most common symptoms of open-angle glaucoma.

Closed-angle glaucoma (also known as acute angle-closure glaucoma) can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headaches
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye irritation
  • Eye pain

This form of glaucoma occurs when the iris bulges outward and narrows or blocks the eye’s drainage angle. The blockage prevents fluid from circulating properly, and pressure builds up. Closed-angle glaucoma can occur suddenly or develop gradually. In either case, it’s a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Diagnosing glaucoma is a straightforward process that starts with a comprehensive eye exam. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may perform several tests, including:

  • Dilation and imaging tests to look for signs of optic nerve damage
  • A tonometry, which measures intraocular pressure
  • A pachymetry, which measures corneal thickness
  • A visual field test to check for vision loss
  • A gonioscopy, which inspects the drainage angle

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, glaucoma causes irreversible damage, but routine visits with your eye doctor and following your treatment plan can help slow the progression of the disease or prevent vision loss.

Treatments focus on reducing the pressure in your eye and can include:

  • Prescription Eyedrops: The most common treatment to reduce pressure in the eye.
  • Oral Medications: If eye drops aren’t enough to reduce the pressure, oral medication may be prescribed.
  • Surgery or Laser Treatment: When all else fails, laser treatment or surgery may be recommended to improve drainage in the eye and reduce pressure.

In addition to these treatments, you will need to attend follow-up exams and may need to undergo additional procedures to keep the pressure under control.

While there is no cure for glaucoma, following your doctor’s recommended treatment protocol can help reduce pressure in the eye and prevent further damage.

If you’re experiencing patchy blindness or any other symptoms associated with glaucoma, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.



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