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The Sneak Thief of Sight

It’s that time of year again. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to create awareness about this potentially devastating disease. The reason awareness about glaucoma is so important is because as its nickname, The Sneak Thief of Sight, describes, the disease often causes permanent damage to your eyes and vision without any noticeable symptoms, until it’s too late. In fact, up to 40% of your vision could be lost without any noticeable symptoms! This is why awareness and early detection are essential for effective treatment.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide. It is a group of eye diseases that results in damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and eventual blindness.

Most cases of glaucoma occur without obvious symptoms. Often people think they will experience headache or eye pain, however this is largely a misconception. There are several types of glaucoma and only one, angle closure glaucoma, typically presents with pain.

Treatment for Glaucoma at Campbell River Optometry Center

While there is still no cure for glaucoma, there are medications and surgical procedures that are able to prevent and slow any further vision loss. However, any vision that is lost is irreversible, usually. Again, this is why early detection is key to stopping and preventing vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma screening includes a number of tests. Many people believe the “air-puff” test used to measure eye pressure is what detects glaucoma, but this is not the whole picture. In fact, many people can develop glaucoma with normal eye pressure. Today newer technologies are available, such as OCT (like an ultrasound), which allow eye doctors to look directly at the optic nerve to assess glaucoma progression. The treatment plan depends on a number of factors including the type of glaucoma and severity of the eye damage.

While anyone can be affected by glaucoma, there are certain risk factors that are known to increase the likelihood of getting the disease. Being aware of the risk factors and knowing whether you are at higher risk puts you in a better position to take steps toward prevention, including regular screenings by an eye doctor. Here are some of the major risk factors:

Glaucoma Risk Factors

  • Over 60 years old (over 40 for African Americans)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African or Hispanic descent
  • Previous eye injury or surgery – even a childhood eye injury can lead to glaucoma decades later
  • Diabetes
  • High nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Cortisone steroid use (in the form of eye drops, pills, creams etc.)

Glaucoma Prevention

Now that you know the risk factors, what can you do to prevent glaucoma? Here are some guidelines for an eye healthy lifestyle that can prevent glaucoma, as well as many other eye and not-eye related diseases:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise daily
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent UV exposure (by wearing sunglasses, protective clothing and sunscreen when outdoors)
  • Get regular comprehensive eye exams – and make sure to tell your eye doctor if you have risk factors for glaucoma
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, vitamins A, C, E and D, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids

Even if you have 20/20 vision, you may still have an asymptomatic eye disease such as glaucoma. Glaucoma Awareness is step one in prevention but there is a lot more to do to keep your eyes and vision safe.

During January, make a commitment to take the following additional steps toward glaucoma prevention:

  1. Assess your risk factors
  2. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam and discuss glaucoma with your eye doctor. Even if you feel you have clear vision, it is worthwhile to book an eye exam in order to detect eye diseases such as this “Sneak Thief”.
  3. Adopt the healthy, preventative lifestyle guidelines outlined above
  4. Spread the word. Talk about glaucoma to friends and family to ensure that they too can become aware and take steps to prevent glaucoma from stealing their sight.

 

Who is affected by Glaucoma ?

Campbell River Optometry Centre eye care Campbell River,British Columbia

We Provide Advanced Eye Care for Glaucoma

Glaucoma describes a type of ocular disease that causes damage to your optic nerve and destroys your quality of vision. At Campbell River Optometry Centre, we use the latest optometric technology to check your eyes carefully for glaucoma.

Glaucoma screening by Dr. Lauzon, done with the help of a tonometer, is a significant part of our regular, comprehensive eye exams in Campbell River, British Columbia.

With no early symptoms, glaucoma can only be detected by a complete eye examination. When left untreated, glaucoma can result in detrimental vision loss. When treated early by one of our professional, knowledgeable eye doctors, we can help preserve your healthy eyesight.

What is glaucoma?

The characteristic sign of glaucoma is increased pressure in your inner eye, and this is what tonometry measures. In order to maintain the spherical form of your eyeball and its ability to provide sight, the proper amount of internal fluid must be present. With glaucoma, a proper balance between the inner eye fluid and the fluid that drains out isn’t preserved. This results in eye pressure levels that are dangerously high and not conducive to sharp vision.

What happens as glaucoma progresses?

The longer you have untreated glaucoma, the higher the risk of damage to your optic nerve. An injured optic nerve cannot convey accurate visual images to the brain. Signs of glaucoma are usually experienced only when the optic nerve has already been damaged. That’s why it’s important to come into our Campbell River office for regular eye exams, (before you sense any symptoms!) by a qualified professional.

Over time, vision loss or total, irreversible blindness is the result. In America, untreated glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness among adults over age 40.

Who is at a greater risk for glaucoma?

    The following risk factors increase your chances of developing glaucoma:

  • Above 60 years of age
  • Diabetes of any type – particularly when uncontrolled
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • A member of the Mexican American population

How is glaucoma treated?

A variety of glaucoma treatments are available, depending upon your particular case. Therapies aim to lower eye pressure and stabilize it at a healthy level that will not lead to any damage of the optic nerve.

Possible medical approaches include:

  • Medicated eye drops to control the disease: note that the success of these eye drops depends heavily upon patient compliance with inserting them regularly, as directed by your eye doctor. Carelessness and failure to use eye drops properly is the primary reason for unsuccessful glaucoma treatment!
  • Laser surgery or Conventional (bladed) surgery: these procedures work to lower the natural production of inner eye fluid and/or to increase natural fluid drainage. Inner eye pressure is thereby reduced.

There are some forms of glaucoma that may cause sudden blurriness of vision, halos around lights, nausea or vomiting, or intense pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advised to contact our eye doctors immediately, or head to your nearby Campbell River County emergency room. We look forward to taking a look at your eyes and preserving your crisp, healthy vision!

Call Campbell River Optometry Centre on (250) 287-2020 in Campbell River, British Columbia to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist, Dr. Lauzon.

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