What Happens If Glaucoma Symptoms Are Not Treated?

Blindness or significant vision loss could be the result of not treating glaucoma, according to the American Optometric Association. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Vision loss associated with glaucoma cannot be restored, but with treatment, especially in the early stages, further vision loss can be prevented or slowed down.

As of September 2015, treatment for glaucoma includes a variety of medications and surgical techniques designed to alleviate the pressure in the eye, reports the American Optometric Association. Doctors prescribe medication alone or in combination with other medications. Surgical techniques, often used when medication cannot lower the pressure, involve using lasers to drain the eye or conventional surgery that creates a drainage flap or implant.

The most common type of glaucoma develops slowly and often has no symptoms until the person experiences vision loss, explains the American Optometric Association. Primary open-angle glaucoma usually starts affecting peripheral vision but can also cause central vision loss. African Americans are the most likely to develop this type of glaucoma. The less-common angle-closure glaucoma is most likely to affect people of Asian descent. This type of glaucoma occurs rapidly and is considered a medical emergency. Vision loss can occur within one day.