Glaucoma: The Sneak Thief Of Vision
Education and Advocacy What Canadians should know about Glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma and how many types are there?
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It’s often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye also known as intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss in seniors in Canada and can be divided into two groups: primary, where the cause is not known; and secondary, where there is an identifiable cause. More than 250,000 Canadians also have chronic open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.
Canadians living with glaucoma may be managed by an optometrist and an ophthalmologist, depending on the type of glaucoma they may have.
Canadians living with glaucoma may be managed by an optometrist and an ophthalmologist, depending on the type of glaucoma they may have. Treatment of glaucoma may include both medical and surgical intervention, and in some cases surgery is the preferred option. For this reason a close working relationship is required between ophthalmologists (medically trained eye physicians and surgeons) and optometrists if patients are to receive optimal care.
Why is it known as the sneak thief of vision?
Glaucoma is commonly referred in this way because it causes vision loss initially in the peripheral visual field. It is not until the blind areas expand towards the centre of one’s central vision that they become noticed; however, this may only happen when the second, better eye becomes more involved. For this reason nearly 50 percent of those with glaucoma do not know they have glaucoma and are not receiving treatment.
Who are the most common people to get glaucoma?
There are a variety of personal risk factors for the various types of glaucoma. For the common chronic type — called primary open-angle glaucoma — the people most at risk are the elderly, those with a strong family history, or those of African ancestry. A number of findings on a comprehensive eye examination have been associated with this glaucoma — the most notable being an elevated intraocular pressure, a change in the appearance of the nerve to the eye, and loss of side vision.
With respect to treatment or a cure, vision lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered. And, while we can’t truly cure glaucoma, the progression of the disease can be slowed greatly by proper monitoring and treatment. If the disease is picked up early, blindness can usually be averted. Pressure-lowering treatments can involve topical eye medications (i.e., eye drops), laser or surgery. Treatments are tailored to the severity of the disease with surgery being reserved for the more serious cases.