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Signs and symptoms of glaucoma

There are several different types of glaucoma. Each type has different signs and symptoms, although the most common type of glaucoma often has no symptoms. This page explains the different signs and symptoms caused by the main types of glaucoma, and what you should do if you experience any of them.

Most types of glaucoma develop gradually, so in the early stages there are no symptoms. Significant vision can be lost before someone has any signs of glaucoma.

If you look for images of what vision with glaucoma looks like, you’ll often see photos that show a black tunnel or big black patches dotted around. This isn’t accurate, and in fact glaucoma sight loss can be quite subtle, especially at the start. Some people with glaucoma notice misty or blurry patches in their vision, particularly if they close one eye, and that’s how we tend to describe glaucoma sight loss.

For people with more advanced glaucoma, daily activities such as reading, driving or moving about become more difficult. For more information about the common types of glaucoma, visit primary glaucomas or secondary glaucomas.

The only way to tell if you have most types of glaucoma is through an eye test at an optician’s.

Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma

PACG is very different to primary open angle glaucoma (the most common type in the UK) as it develops more suddenly. It has these symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Halos around light sources
  • A red eye
  • Cloudy vision
  • Sickness

If you experience these symptoms, you must seek medical advice straight away.

Sub acute attack

Sometimes, milder symptoms can occur during a “sub-acute attack”, more commonly in the evening.

  • Misty vision
  • Coloured rings around white lights
  • Discomfort in the eye
  • Red eye

If you experience these symptoms, you must seek medical advice straight away.

Developmental Glaucoma

Some babies are born with glaucoma. This is likely to be identified at – or soon after – birth. The main symptoms are

  • Large eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Watering eyes
  • Poor vision
  • Jerky eyes (nystagmus)

Glaucoma diagnosis

If you think you or your loved one might have glaucoma, the best thing to do is to book a routine eye test at your local opticians. In fact, glaucoma is often symptomless, so everyone should have an eye test every two years, unless you’ve been told otherwise by your doctor. Learn more about how glaucoma is diagnosed by clicking the button below.

More questions?

Want to talk about glaucoma? Call our helpline on 01233 64 81 70 or email
(Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.00pm)