World Glaucoma Week 2018: Understanding Glaucoma

World Glaucoma Week 2018

World Glaucoma Week will be observed March 11th – 18th, 2018. As described on the website for the week, glaucoma “is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain”.  Vision loss is a real threat if the condition is left untreated.

Causes of glaucoma

The exact cause and mechanisms of glaucoma are not yet fully understood, although it’s believed that there is some level of mechanical compression and/or decreased blood flow to the optic nerve. Although high pressure inside the eye is often associated with glaucoma, some people develop glaucoma with “normal” eye pressure.

Secondary glaucoma is another form that can result from an injury, infection or a tumour in or around the eye, causing an increase in eye pressure.

Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type and results in a slow loss of vision with no discernible symptoms. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is less common and results in a sudden elevation of pressure and symptoms of pain, redness and nausea, making it easier to catch.

Risk factors

Glaucoma occurs most frequently in individuals over 40, and a hereditary tendency for the development of the disease exists in some families. Individuals with African American ancestry are at increased risk, with the disease appearing earlier and progressing faster. There is also a greater risk of developing glaucoma when you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of eye injuries.

Regular eye examinations by an optometrist are important for people of all ages to assess the presence of, or risk for, glaucoma. It’s not possible to detect the presence of glaucoma without an eye exam.

Detecting glaucoma

A comprehensive eye examination is the first step. A simple and painless procedure called tonometry will be performed during your routine eye exam, measuring the internal pressure of your eye.

We will also inspect the drainage angle inside the eye and examine your eye to observe the health of the optic nerve and take measurements of your peripheral vision. We take a detailed look at your optic nerve through a dilated pupil using a series of hand held lenses.

Treating glaucoma

Given the variety of ways that glaucoma can present, treatment depends on the type, severity and progress of the disease. Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled, often with daily eye drops or laser surgery.

In more complicated cases, surgery may be needed to completely bypass the eye’s natural drainage system. Once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be restored. This is why regular preventive eye exams are so vital.

Don’t wait to get tested, particularly if you have one or more of the risk factors noted above. Contact us today for more information and to book your eye exam.

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