Since this month has been designated National Glaucoma Awareness Month, this post is intended to emphasize the importance of early detection of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of ocular diseases that cause damage to the eye's optic nerve, which can be a precursor to irreversible blindness. When not treated, glaucoma often initially results in vision loss in the periphery of the visual field until it eventually results in a complete loss of vision. It is the leading cause of preventable vision loss and an estimated sixty million individuals worldwide are afflicted with the disease.
The main source of glaucoma is considered to be an increase in pressure around the optic nerve. As the pressure increases, this damages the optic nerve which transports signals from the eye to the vision centers in the brain. In instances where this system is damaged eyesight is impaired. Regrettably, optic nerve damage is usually untreatable.
Glaucoma is particularly threatening because distinct from other causes of vision loss, there are no signs that indicate the progression of the condition until vision is already lost.
It is for this reason that glaucoma is often called the "sneak thief of sight." The problem is how is it possible to diagnose a condition which has no obvious symptoms?
Prompt diagnosis of glaucoma is very important to effective treatment. While everyone may be at risk for glaucoma, particular populations have a higher risk than others. Risk factors for glaucoma can include anyone over 45, those having family members who have had glaucoma, individuals with diabetes, or other eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia, eye injuries or elevated intraocular pressure.
There are different classes of glaucoma such as open or close angle glaucomas. As a general rule, both eyes are affected, although the disease has been known to progress more quickly in one eye than in the other.
The best way to detect glaucoma is to speak to your eye doctor. There are a series of diagnostic eye evaluations relied on by doctors to check intraocular pressure and the risk of glaucoma. Especially if you are over 45 or know that you are at risk, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam annually.
The fact is for the most part glaucoma cannot be prevented. Nevertheless the loss of sight caused by damage to the optic nerve can be slowed by timely diagnosis and proper treatment. Don't delay! Contact Shuswap Optometric today, for your annual screening for glaucoma.