Glaucoma refers to a family of diseases that damage the optic nerve usually from elevated pressure within the eye and is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada. It is a progressive disease that most frequently occurs in individuals over the age of 40. There is a greater risk of developing glaucoma for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, a history of eye injuries or a family history of glaucoma.
- In open angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma, there are usually no symptoms until the individual experiences peripheral vision loss, which is why glaucoma is referred to as “the silent thief”.
- In a more rare from of the disease, called closed angle glaucoma, there is a sudden rise in eye pressure, and the individual may experience pain, blurred vision and see halos around lights.
- If untreated, both forms can lead to complete loss of vision.
Detection and Prevention
- As there is no way to prevent glaucoma, a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect the disease. Even if you see well or don’t wear eye glasses, regular eye exams help to detect glaucoma early enough to prevent vision loss.
- During your routine eye exam, your Markham Optometrist or eye doctor will perform a simple and painless procedure to measure the internal pressure of your eye, as well as look into your eye to observe the health of the optic nerve. If needed, a measure of the visual field and additional imaging may be performed.
- If detected and treated early, eye drops and laser surgery are usually effective at maintaining your vision, and little or no future vision loss should occur.
- If left untreated, peripheral vision is affected first, followed by central vision loss during late stages of the disease. Complete blindness may occur.