Detecting and Managing Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a sneaky eye condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide and, if untreated, gradually robs them of their eyesight. Glaucoma, also known as the “silent thief of sight,” often progresses without warning in the early stages, making early detection and treatment crucial. As the disease progresses, it gradually damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss that cannot be reversed. Glaucoma is a prevalent age-related eye problem that affects an estimated 450,000 Canadians across the nation, it’s the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts. Treatments vary according to the condition of the patient, the most common treatments are eyedrops, laser treatments and surgeries.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

The term “silent thief of sight” refers to glaucoma’s propensity to create no symptoms at all in its early stages. However, if the condition worsens, specific symptoms may point to the presence of glaucoma. With any type, you may experience:

  • Eye pain or pressure.
  • Headaches.
  • Rainbow-coloured halos around lights.
  • Low vision, blurred vision, narrowed vision (tunnel vision) or blind spots.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Red eyes.

It’s critical to keep in mind that glaucoma can advance unnoticed, especially in the early stages. For early detection and treatment, routine eye exams including intraocular pressure readings and thorough optic nerve and visual field evaluations are crucial. Consult with an Optometrist for a correct diagnosis and management if you notice any changes in your vision or have concerns about glaucoma. Sometimes a dilated eye exam is needed to widen pupils and view your optic nerve at the back of your eyes.

Diagnosis and test

Several tests can be done by your optometrist to identify glaucoma, your doctor may resort to one of the following:

  • Dilated eye exam to widen pupils and view your optic nerve at the back of your eyes.
  • Visual Field Testing assesses your peripheral vision, which is often affected in glaucoma.
  • A pachymetry test is used to measure the thickness of the cornea
  • Tonometry (eye pressure) to measure the pressure inside your eyes using a tonometer.
  • Gonioscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the angle between the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) and the iris (the coloured part of the eye). This is where fluid drains in the eye, and if blocked can increase pressure, chronically or acutely.
  • In Biomicroscopy or a slit lamp exam, a doctor uses a special microscope called a slit lamp to examine the inside of your eye.

Treatment of Glaucoma

It is crucial to book a regular eye exam to identify glaucoma sooner rather than later. Treatments for Glaucoma vary. Prescription medications such as eye drops are one of the solutions, however as Glaucoma is a lifelong condition you may have to utilize them daily. Laser Therapy is another treatment, your doctor may recommend laser therapy to help with the fluid drainage in your eye. Another method to lower eye pressure is surgery. Compared to drops or lasers, it is more intrusive but also more quickly leads to improved ocular pressure control. Although surgery can slow down visual loss, it cannot correct it or cure glaucoma. 

There is no indefinite cure for Glaucoma however it is a manageable disease that can prevent the symptoms from spreading and becoming worse.

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