This Glaucoma Awareness Month we dive deeper into what we know about the disease that affects 400,000 Canadians and 67 million people worldwide. Here are some things you should know if you’re looking to manage the risks.
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease, often related to an increase in internal eye pressure. It can lead to gradual damage of the capillaries in the optic nerve, then the optic nerve as a whole, and potentially, permanent vision loss. The most common type of glaucoma has no warning signs or obvious symptoms, so early detection is essential in slowing the progression of the disease.
The optic nerve is made up of fibres that carry images to the brain, much like an electric cable filled with wire. When glaucoma damages the optic nerve fibres, blind spots develop. As the damage progresses, blank spots begin to appear in your field of vision. You typically won't notice these blank spots in your day-to-day activities until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and these spots grow and affect more than your peripheral vision. If the entire nerve is destroyed, vision is lost completely.
Glaucoma strikes people of every race, gender, and nationality. Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at greater risk:
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in elderly North Americans. With an increasingly longevous senior population and an aging baby boomer generation, the National Eye Institute projects that glaucoma in the 40-plus population will escalate 58 per cent by 2030.
If you fall into any of these high-risk categories, consider scheduling an eye exam and discussing your potential risk with your optometrist. Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are medications and surgeries that can slow its progress, so early detection and treatment is key.
Glaucoma does not always deprive a person of the majority of their visual field. Read our blog about a legally blind glaucoma patient who is regaining his sight. With the use of advanced technology, such as the Optomap Retinal Scanner, an experienced eye specialist can potentially detect glaucoma at an early stage and take action to prevent progression.
Visit your local FYidoctors to benefit from our eye care and vision correction services.