According to the Glaucoma Research Society of Canada, glaucoma affects more than 400,000 Canadians and is one of the leading causes of blindness among older Canadians. There is currently no cure – but glaucoma awareness and early detection with an annual, comprehensive eye exam can slow or prevent vision loss.
What Is It?
Glaucoma is associated with increased ocular pressure in the eye, which, if left untreated, can result in impaired vision or total loss of sight. There are several types of glaucoma, but the most prevalent is primary/chronic open-angle glaucoma. In this form of the disease, drainage canals in the eye become clogged over time. This increases pressure in the eye and damages the optic nerve. Blind spots can develop as the optic nerve is progressively damaged. Once the nerve is completely destroyed, it will result in total blindness.
Potential Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but there are certain risk factors that tend to carry a higher rate of contracting the disease.
- Age – People over the age of 60 have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
- Health – Those that suffer from diabetes and hypothyroidism have a higher risk factor.
- Previous eye injury or eye surgery – Can contribute to developing glaucoma.
- Family History – If members of your immediate family have the disease, you have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight because of its slow progression and ability to cause irreparable harm before any symptoms emerge. Many times, people live with glaucoma year after year, symptom-free. Once symptoms finally do appear, it’s too late for treatment plans.
The only way to detect glaucoma is through a regular, comprehensive eye exam. A licensed optician typically performs two specific tests to check for glaucoma:
- Tonometry – Checking the pressure of the inner eye.
- Ophthalmoscopy – Checking the shape and the colour of the optic nerve.
It’s only through these tests that a diagnosis can occur, which is why it’s critical to schedule an annual eye exam to stay on top of any changes in your eyes.
While vision loss caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, early detection from eye exams allow for treatment options that can slow or halt complete vision loss. Options for decreasing intraocular pressure include: eye-drops, laser treatment and surgery.
Hakim Optical is dedicated to your eye health. Licensed opticians and eye doctors staff every Hakim Optical located next to an Eye Exam Centre. Our opticians are fully licensed and certified to thoroughly assess your eye health and provide recommendations to fulfill your vision needs.