Did you know glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in Canada?
Some of you may have heard of this debilitating eye disease, or know of someone who has it. Unfortunately, however, I come across many patients who are completely unaware of it, or who are misinformed, and so I want to take this time to shed some light on this very serious eye condition.
This disease results from damage to the optic nerve usually due to increased pressure within the eye.
The optic nerve is like the film used in viewing movies at a theater. Just like the film, which transmits a movie onto a big screen, the optic nerve transmits data to the brain. This allows the information from the eye to be interpreted.
Those who have high blood pressure, diabetes, and or a history of glaucoma in their families are more susceptible to developing glaucoma. Trauma to the eye can also cause glaucoma.
There are two particular kinds of glaucoma one can develop:
1. Open Angle Glaucoma: refers to the loss of peripheral vision due to elevated eye pressure, because too much fluid is being produced in the back of the eye, or not enough fluid is being released through the drainage system.
2. Closed Angle Glaucoma: refers to when the drainage system of the eye suddenly closes and causes a rapid increase in intraocular pressure. This is a very painful type of glaucoma, and should immediately be treated as one can lose their vision in a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, there are no pre-emptive actions that can be taken to prevent glaucoma from developing. However, you can be vigilant about its detection, which is the best line of defense against this eye disease.
At your regular eye check-ups, the internal eye pressure will be measured for normalcy. The optic nerve will also be thoroughly examined for any damage. If glaucoma is detected it can be treated with eye drops or laser eye surgery to maintain vision. However, if undetected an individual’s eyesight may be compromised. The degree of vision loss will be a factor of how quickly the disease was detected.
It is important to have regular eye exams to detect early signs of glaucoma. If you or a loved one already has glaucoma, it is imperative you have your family examined, because glaucoma is a hereditary eye condition.
Our team at Inner Harbour Optometry looks forward to helping you maintain optimal eye health.
–Dr. Balraj R. Sharma