What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a serious condition that damages your optic nerve. Untreated glaucoma can result in permanent loss of vision. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life. It is also often asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease. It progresses slowly and often is not noticed by patients until they have suffered permanent vision loss and related lifestyle impacts such as the inability to legally drive. If you're over the age of 40 and have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma, you should have an eye exam every year.
The following diagram shows how pressure build-up in the eye, which you cannot feel, can damage the optic nerve.
The optic nerve sends signals from the eye to the brain. If that nerve is damanged, the brain gets fewer signals, which means that vision is lost forever, starting with peripheral vision. As the nerve damage progresses, more and more vision is lost. When the nerve damage is complete, the patient is permanently blind. A damanged nevrve cannot be repaired or regenerated.
Glaucoma awareness in Canada
Awareness is is the key to beating glaucoma. Research publishsed in the Journal of Ophtalmology showed that Canadians are not taking easy steps to protect themselves against glaucoma. As a consequence, the disease is on the rise in Canada. By the time the patients in the study were diagnosed with glaucoma, 50% were already in the moderate to advanced stages of the disease. The permanent vision loss suffered by those people is needless because glaucoma is usually succesfully treated if it is caught early before it does permanent vision damange. Left, undiagnosed, the disease slowly and silently destroys the patient's vision.
Regular eye exams are the best defence against glaucoma
When glaucoma damages your optic nerve, you begin to lose patches of vision, usually starting with your side vision (peripheral vision). Over time, glaucoma may also damage central vision. Many people do not notice a loss of side vision until they have permanently lost a great deal of vision. That is why it is so important to get annual eye exams that can diagnose glaucoma before it is too late.
Durign a comprehensive eye exam, we always check the pressure in the eye. Elevated eye pressure is a marker of glaucoma and can be detected very early in the progress of the disease before it can do too much damage.
Those who have risk factors for glaucoma may need more frequent eye exams (talk to your eye doctor if you are unsure about how often to have an exam). When checking for glaucoma, eye doctors usually look for damage to the optic nerve and any loss of side vision. They may also check your eye pressure because high pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve. Once glaucoma takes your vision, you will never get it back. Early detection is the best way to retain your sight
To book your eye exam, call 604-435-EYE1 or book online.
Eye Exam finds Glaucoma
This video tells the story of a mother who decided to have an unplanned eye exam that found glaucoma. The decision to have the eye exam saved her vision.