About 3 million American men and women have glaucoma, a progressive eye disease that’s a leading cause of permanent blindness in the United States and worldwide. Most people with glaucoma have no or few noticeable symptoms until vision loss occurs. As a result, as many as half of all Americans who have the disease don’t even know it.
Halos are one symptom that can occur with glaucoma, especially the rarer but more serious type called acute angle-closure glaucoma. If you have halos — which are circles of light that appear when you look at a light source — having a comprehensive eye exam and glaucoma checkup with Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, at Advanced Eye Center is critical. If you have glaucoma, catching it as soon as possible can help prevent permanent vision loss.
Glaucoma is almost always associated with increased pressure inside the eye. Your eye contains a fluid called aqueous humor. Normally, this fluid continually replenishes itself. Old fluid drains out as it’s replaced by new fluid. This continuous cycle helps your eye maintain a steady internal pressure.
Sometimes, though, the eye’s drainage system can get blocked, which means it can take a lot longer for older fluid to drain out. New fluid coming in can then cause the intraocular pressure (IOP) to increase, compressing the tiny nerves that help you see. This is how glaucoma causes vision loss over time. It’s also what causes halos, red eyes, and blurry vision in some people.
Most people have open-angle glaucoma, which means that while the drainage system might be partially blocked, it still allows some drainage. This type of glaucoma can cause very subtle symptoms that are hard to detect.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is much less common, and it causes the drainage system to shut down completely. This type of glaucoma can cause immediate symptoms, such as halos and blurry vision. Because it can cause rapid permanent vision loss, acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency.
During an eye exam, Dr. Belalcazar uses several methods to screen for glaucoma. That includes measuring the pressure in your eye, which involves a painless screening that takes just a few seconds.
Dr. Belalcazar also examines the structures inside your eye using advanced technology that provides detailed images of your retina and other internal parts of your eye. During this part of the exam, he looks for changes in the retinal tissue as well as changes in the optic nerve head.
If you have halos but no other signs of glaucoma, Dr. Belalcazar can use other types of evaluations and screening techniques to determine the cause. Other possible causes of halos include:
If you’re seeing halos or you have any other type of vision change — subtle or drastic — it’s extremely important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Belalcazar right away. If you do have glaucoma, he can prescribe medication or use laser surgery to improve your eye’s internal drainage.
Because it usually causes few symptoms, glaucoma has sometimes been referred to as the “silent thief of sight.” Having routine comprehensive eye exams is the best way to look for early signs of glaucoma and to learn how you can reduce your risk of developing this serious disease.
To schedule your exam, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, today.