This week is World Glaucoma Week, raising awareness of an eye condition that can cause gradual sight loss and blindness. More than 250,000 Canadians have the most common form of glaucoma, chronic open-angle glaucoma.
Since this type of glaucoma doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort, more may have the condition and simply don’t notice until their eyesight starts to deteriorate. The good news is that regular eye exams can help detect glaucoma early, before any major damage is caused, and treatments given.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, and is linked to high pressure within the eye. That’s why your regular eye exam will involve a pressure test, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma. If the pressure in the eye gets too high, the optic nerve that carries visual signals to your brain can get damaged. This damage prevents some signals reaching the brain, resulting in loss of vision. Glaucoma can’t be cured, but it can be slowed, treated and further sight loss prevented in many cases.
What is eye pressure?
Your eye is filled with various fluids which maintain your eye pressure, known as your intra-ocular pressure (IOP). The front of your eye contains a fluid, the aqueous humor, which bathes the eye. It normally flows through the eye and then drains at the point where your cornea and your iris meet. If this ‘drain’ become blocked, pressure builds up in the eye.
Eye pressure is easy to test, and is usually measured using the ‘puff of air’ test. Eye pressure is normally between 12 to 22 mmHg. High eye pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma, but not everyone who has high eye pressure will get glaucoma, and vice versa. That’s why your optometrist may also:
- Examine the inside of your eye
- Take an image photo’ of the back of your eye where the optic nerve joins the eye
- Conduct a ‘spot the dot’ or similar field of vision test
Not had an eye exam recently? Call us to book your eye exam at the Advanced Vision Centre at AMG London. No referral required.
What are the signs of glaucoma?
Glaucoma develops slowly over time, and will gradually reduce your peripheral vision. That’s the ‘sides’ of your vision and when you lose this, it’s also known as having tunnel vision. Unfortunately, the nerve damage cannot be reversed, which is why early detection is so important. A regular eye exam will include tests to detect the common forms of glaucoma before it becomes an issue. That’s why you should have regular eye exams even if you don’t wear glasses, and especially if you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma.
Glaucoma risk factors
You are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma if you:
- Have high eye pressure
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are aged over 40, with increased risk after age 60
- Are of African, African-Caribbean or Asian descent
- Are short-sighted (myopic)
If you are in any of the risk groups and do not have regular eye exams, now is the time to start! Call us for an appointment at the Advanced Vision Centre here at AMG London. A comprehensive eye exam by our optometrists will include looking for the early signs of glaucoma and other eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, as well as assessing your vision! This eye exam will usually include the use of dilating drops that make your pupils dilate (open up wide).
Types of glaucoma
There are four main types of glaucoma:
Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG)
The most common type of glaucoma, where damage to your optic nerve happen slowly.
Acute angle closure glaucoma
This condition happens when your eye pressure rises suddenly, and is painful. Treatment should be sought immediately.
This type happens as a result of an eye injury, operation, medication or another eye condition.
This is a very rare type that affects young babies.
Treatments for glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma can be treated by lowering the pressure in the eye using eye drops. For many people, daily eye drops is the only treatment they will need. If required, your optometrist will refer you to an eye specialist who may also recommend Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).
Get seen, get sorted!
At AMG, our Advanced Vision Centre is setting new standards for vision health in London. Our state of the art clinic is equipped with advanced technology in clinical diagnostics for eye pathology, and eye surgery. Call us, or learn more in our one minute video: