Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide, but it’s essential to understand this disease because if it’s detected early enough, it can be managed properly and visual impairment can be decreased.

Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects the optic nerve which connects the back of the eye to the brain. There are many different types of glaucoma, but the common thread amongst all of them is that it causes damage to the optic nerve which can lead to severe vision loss if not treated.  Many types of glaucoma are caused by high pressure in the eyes.  This disease can occur at any age but is most commonly developed in older adults. One of the leading causes of blindness in the population age 60 and older is glaucoma. 

It is extremely important to have routine eye exams in order to be screened for glaucoma, as it often goes undetected for a long time, until it progresses to a more severe disease. Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be regained and therefore early detection is essential. There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough.

It’s important to make sure that you go for regular routine eye exams in order to be monitored by your eye doctor. If you have a history of glaucoma in your family or if you are forty years or older then you will be screened for this eye disease more frequently.

If you experience eye pain, blurred vision and severe headaches, please book an appointment immediately with your eye doctor. If there isn’t an appointment available right away you will be guided to go to your local emergency room. It’s possible that you have an acute form of a serious type of glaucoma which needs to be treated immediately.

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The symptoms greatly depend on the type of glaucoma and the stage of the disease. Two main types of glaucoma are open angle glaucoma and closed angle glaucoma. The latter has a specific form of the disease known as acute closed angle glaucoma which is considered to be an eye emergency. If you are experiencing any symptoms of the acute form, please book an immediate appointment with your eye doctor. If there isn’t a time slot available right away, please don’t delay and go to the nearest emergency room.

Open Angle Glaucoma

The main symptom is changes in your visual field. Some people may notice patches of blind spots in the central or peripheral vision which occurs in both eyes. If the damage to the visual field advances, it can cause tunnel vision which means that the person can only see in the narrow center of the visual field, but not the periphery.

Acute Closed Angle Glaucoma

This is an eye emergency so if you are experiencing these symptoms please seek urgent care immediately:

  • Eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in eyes
  • Halos around lights
  • Vomiting and nausea

Risk Factors

The risk factors vary for each type of glaucoma. Listed below are common risk factors for this eye disease:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Above age 40
  • High eye pressure
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease
  • Eye trauma or injury
  • Certain medications over a long period of time, such as corticosteroids especially in the form of eye drops
Risk Factors


Glaucoma cannot always be prevented, but there are certain precautions that can be taken to lower your risk of developing this eye disease and preventing vision loss:

  • Regular eye exams with pupil dilation
  • Know your family history - if your first degree relatives have glaucoma, frequent screening is


There are many methods of treatment, depending on the type and stage of glaucoma, as well as the patient’s medical background. If you have glaucoma, your eye doctor will do a comprehensive eye exam including a full background medical history in order to recommend the best treatment plan for you. Some of the possible treatments include:

  • Wide variety of prescription eye drops which could consist of various medications, depending on your needs
  • Oral medication 
  • Laser surgery or other surgical procedures

Common Questions

There are many types of glaucoma, but most fall under the two main categories which are connected to the anatomy of the eye. There is an angle between the cornea, a transparent layer covering the surface of the eye, and the iris, the visible colored part of the eye. If this angle is open or closed, it affects the drainage system in the eye which is crucial for maintaining balanced fluids in the eyes. The main categories are open angle glaucoma and closed angle glaucoma. There are types of glaucoma which are considered secondary, as the condition is the result of a different eye disease which caused glaucoma to develop. If there is an acute closed angle glaucoma this is considered an eye emergency and you must seek urgent care immediately.
The eye doctor will ask for a full medical background and if you have any first degree relatives with glaucoma. There will be a comprehensive eye exam with additional tests to check for glaucoma. The eye doctor will perform one or more of the following procedures in order to diagnose glaucoma Eye pressure - known as intraocular pressure; will be measured, Field of vision will be tested, Gonioscopy - this uses a special lens with a microscope to observe the angle between the eye’s cornea and the iris, Optical coherence tomography (OCT) - non-invasive imaging machine used to observe the layers inside the eye including the optic nerve, Fluorescein angiography - a dye is injected into the bloodstream which then highlights blood vessels at the back of the eye in order to detect eye diseases such as glaucoma, using a specialized camera
Glaucoma is a disease that slowly progresses when treated correctly. When treated properly glaucoma is usually managed for many years without vision loss. However, if Glaucoma goes untreated, blindness can be as quick as a few years. Vision loss from Gaucoma really depends on the intraocular pressure some estimates are that it takes 15 years to progress to loss of vision if the intraocular pressure is between 21-25 mmHg, seven years if the IOP is between 25-30 mmHg, and three years if the IOP is over 30 mmHg. Vision loss from glaucoma usually starts with very small, sometimes unnoticeable deficits in peripheral vision, then progresses to more defined vision loss on the periphery causing tunnel vision, and eventually blindness.
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Glaucoma is a common eye disorder in which the optic nerve is damaged. This is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, and therefore it’s extremely important to schedule routine eye exams in order to be screened for this disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent and slow down damage to your vision. Please call our office at (360) 491-2121 to schedule your next eye exam. Patients searching for advanced treatment for glaucoma visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical eye care services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey. 


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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