Glaucoma Awareness Week
Glaucoma affects 1-3% of the population in the western world age 40 and over. An estimated 400 000 Canadians have glaucoma. According to the world health organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world after cataracts.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease that results in damage to the optic nerve. As it damages the optic nerve, there is a loss of peripheral vision gradually affecting central vision. There are several different types of glaucoma most being asymptomatic. Glaucoma can only be detected by regular eye examinations by our eye doctors. It is crucial that it be diagnosed early and treatment started as soon as possible to slow or arrest its progression. Glaucoma that is not treated may end in blindness.
Risk factors of glaucoma
Key risk factors include increased pressure inside the eye, age, ethnicity, anatomical structure of the eye, various diseases, trauma to the eye, medications used, or genetic predisposition.
At your yearly eye examination, our optometrists are checking for signs of glaucoma by assessing your risk factors and checking your eye pressure, visual field, and optic nerves. The ocular coherence tomography or OCT is like a footprint of the eye. It is able to take precise measurements of the nerve and assess for any nerve fiber damage. This technology can detect disease up to 10 years before we can see the damage.
Prevention and treatment
Glaucoma cannot be cured by it can be treated. Damage already done is irreversible but the disease can be controlled to prevent vision loss. The main objective of treatment is to reduce the eye pressure. There are three types of treatment options: drug therapy, laser treatments and surgery. Alberta Health and Wellness covers medical visits for patients with glaucoma when you see your Optometrist. Patients are monitored frequently.
Dr. Farrah Sunderji, OD